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With Recent Unseasonable Increase in RSV Cases, Atrium Health Navicent Shares Prevention Tips

Premature and very young infants are most at risk for RSV infection

Medical professionals, both nationally and at Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health, have noted an unseasonal increase in the number of babies diagnosed with the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, better known as RSV.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms and is most prevalent in Georgia during the fall and winter months. Babies and older adults are at highest risk for more severe infections, some of which may require hospitalization. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in United States infants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We have recently seen a nationwide and local increase in the number of babies presenting with RSV, which is unusual for this time of year,” said Dr. Anu Pavuluri, a pediatric hospitalist at Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health. “Most babies do well, but a few need supportive care in a clinic or hospital. If the baby is having difficulty breathing, a decrease in wet diapers or loss of appetite, or if the baby is lethargic, parents and guardians should contact either the child’s pediatrician or go to the emergency room.”

Although most otherwise healthy infants and young children infected with RSV do not require hospitalization, some require additional care. Each year, an estimated 58,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized in the United States due to RSV infection, according to the CDC.

Those at greatest risk for severe illness include:

· Premature infants

· Very young infants, especially those 6 months and younger

· Children younger than 2 years old with chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease

· Children with weakened immune systems

· Children with neuromuscular disorders, including those who have difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus secretions.

Early symptoms of RSV include a runny nose, a decrease in appetite and a cough which may progress to wheezing. In young infants, caregivers may only notice irritability, decreased activity, decreased appetite and pauses while breathing. Fever may not always occur with RSV infections.

Caregivers and those with close contact with children at higher risk for RSV can take steps to prevent RSV such as:

· Frequent handwashing: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and help young children clean their hands. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

· Keep hands away from your face: Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

· Avoid close contact with those who are sick: Avoid kissing and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who have cold-like symptoms.

· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper shirt sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

· Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as toys, doorknobs and mobile devices.

· If possible, stay home from work, school and public areas when you’re sick.

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About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and well-being through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit