RS virus deadly to children, but a drug is on the way

Almost every child experiences the RS virus in the first two years, but it can be serious in young babies. Globally, the RS virus is the leading cause of death in young children after malaria, particularly in developing countries. Mortality is rare in the Netherlands, but 150 to 200 children end up on IC each year.

Scientists think now to have found a solution: an injection that protects the child against serious disease for a year. The antibodies were injected into more than a thousand premature babies (who are at greater risk of serious disease course) from 23 countries, and the following winter, there were 80 percent fewer hospital admissions in this group.

The antibodies eventually disappear from the body, but then the child has already passed the vulnerable period. In follow-up research, the scientists will examine whether this also works for children who are not born prematurely.

Follow-up research

Pediatrician Louis Bont (Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital) is enthusiastic about the research, in which he is not involved. He is an important specialist in this field in the Netherlands and sees the children’s ICs flooding with children who have the RS virus every year. “This changes everything,” he tells the Volkskrant about the research.

His hope now is that the follow-up research will be just as successful, so that in a few years children will be able to safely go through winter.

What are the symptoms of an RS virus infection?

First the child has a cold and starts sniffling and coughing. One or two days later, the RS virus can cause lung problems. This can happen especially if the child is still a baby. The phenomena are then:

  • Fever
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • The skin pulls in between the ribs when inhaling
  • The nostrils move remarkably with the breathing (this is called nostrils)
  • Drinking does not work well
  • Sometimes suddenly not breathing for a few seconds
  • The skin turns gray / blue around the mouth and under the nails
  • Drowsiness: Your baby appears drowsy and difficult to wake up

Children can also get ear infections from the RS virus.

Source: Home doctor

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