Essay: Respiratory syncytial virus

RSV is the common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants and young children and also a major cause of morbidity in this age group. RSV infection is usually seasonal and peaks in the winter months from November to March (Aitken, 2001).

RSV is usually spread by large droplets which are shed in the respiratory secretions of infected individuals. These droplets persist in the environment for some time and can be inhaled through the nose or inoculated in the eyes by close contact but the most common mode is transmission through ungloved and contaminated hands of health care workers.

The incubation period varies from 2-8 days and the virus is shed in respiratory secretions is usually up till a week but can be prolonged for 3-4 weeks in infants.

The disease usually presents as non specific signs of lethargy and poor feeding in neonates and respiratory symptoms are not prominent. On the other hand, in older children it usually presents as an upper respiratory tract infection whereas it can present as pneumonia in adults.

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