A: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes an infection of the lungs and breathing passages. It's generally not a big deal in adults and older kids since it tends to just cause traditional cold symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. But when a premature baby catches RSV, it can cause more severe symptoms like a high fever, wheezing, and trouble breathing. RSV is highly contagious and spread through infected people and surfaces. Since there's no cure, prevention is your best bet. During RSV season (roughly November to April), be sure to scrub your hands thoroughly after coming home, and wash your babies' hands often too (infants are constantly putting their hands in their mouths). Have anyone who wants to hold your babies lather up as well, and keep your baby away from anyone who's even slightly under the weather. If possible, keep your baby out of daycare during RSV season and avoid outings to crowded, germ-packed places like the mall. Finally, talk to the pediatrician about medication for RSV prevention. High-risk infants may be eligible for preventive injections.
Copyright 2005 Meredith Corporation. Updated 2009.