Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

RSV …P? Infectious Virus Comes to the Party February 22, 2008

I stood at th door, chatting with my neighbor as she packed up her drowsy two-year-old after a ruckus third birthday party for little Joseph. “It was so nice to have you over! We haven’t seen you in ages,” I offered. To reply, she dropped this bomb: “yeah, we’ve been busy. Last week the kids were all sick with RSV.” I gulped hard, meekly repeating, “RSV?”

If I were able to pronounce it, I might have shouted, “Respiratory Syncycial Virus!” as though it were an accusation, shaking my fist in protest. 

Sure enough, two days later, my son (who had blown into every last noisemaker available at the party, regardless of owner) developed a barking cough, runny nose and slight fever–fetchingly accessorized with a wad of goop in each eye. Eeew. Then, my little Noah, shirker of every cold and flu, began to bark and cough, rasping for breath and crying every time he swallowed. Then Daddy got it. Either I’ve got a heck of an immune system, or my ability to catch a virus is as sharp as my my ability to catch anything thrown my way, but it always takes several weeks of repeated exposure if I finally catch a virus.

According to Dr. Jim Sears, RSV is a virus that causes a respiratory tract infection. It can cause respiratory tract illness in patients of all ages, but children under the age of one are especially vulnerable. RSV is a very serious concern for infants. In fact, it is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia and is the leading cause of viral death in children under the age of five. It has also been shown that RSV is the number one reason for hospitalization of children under the age of one.

At 11 o’clock at night, this is not the news you want to read when your 10-month-old infant is feverish, red-faced and wailing. None of us slept. I kept vigil over my fitful baby, nudging him whenever the word “apnea” broke across my sleepy mind, and my husband tended to little Joseph. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say each year as many as 125,000 children are hospitalized with serious RSV disease and some may die from complications. We were officially freaked out.

The next day, a visit to our ped (Dr. Mitchell Naficy) put us at ease. The boys are sick, but it isn’t life-threatening, and better yet, there is nothing we can do but ride it out, expecting symtoms to disappear over 3-4 days. I say ‘better yet’, because I also read about a shot called Synagis® (palivizumab) which may be administered (and anyone who knows me knows how I hate “new” pharmaceuticals (It’s 10 years old.). Reality check: little Joseph has embraced his “sick days” indoors—vitamin-fortified juices are appearing regularly, we’re cuddling up for Jungle Book and old Charlie Brown reruns, and of course, the three P’s (puzzles, painting and play dough.) Noah, on the other hand, is miserable. Fever after fever, sore throat and lack of appetite. Thank God I’m still nursing, or the child might starve and/or dehydrate.

Dr. Naficy also mentioned how these symtoms are sweeping the nation. In fact, I was on the phone with my dad who was visiting retired friends in Florida this month with exactly the same cough and cold and also ran into my neighbor whose daughter was one of our party guests, and she has developed “the bark.”

The birthday gift that just keeps on giving! 

Allow me to close with a personal note so obvious I shouldn’t have to say it: Don’t bring your sick kid to a birthday party! RSVP no, thank you, we have RSV! 

**For information on natural remedies for kids and families that are proven shorten the duration of the common cold, check out Winter Wellness!


2 Responses to “RSV …P? Infectious Virus Comes to the Party”

  1. 2dadsntwins Says:

    Synagis, one of my favorite winter topics. Our twins were preemies, and will get Synagis until they are two years old. They were able to get precertified to get the shots because of their prematurity. Yes, precertified. Why? I’m so glad you asked. Because Synagis has to be given every month during the RSV season (where we live November through March). The amount of the drug given is based on weight, and at our twins’ current weight, the cost is approximately $3000.00 (yes, that’s thousand) per child per month. Some insurance companies will cover the entire amount via a copay, but many only cover a portion of the cost. It’s definitely worth checking out thoroughly, and not something many people would care to pay out of pocket. On the up side, our kids haven’t caught RSV. So they haven’t been exposed, or the drug works. And they’ve had no apparent side effects from the shots.

    The piece of your post that first grabbed my attention, however, was people who bring sick kids to parties. This is my current rant. We celebrated my parents 50th wedding anniversary over the weekend, and my cousin brought her sick daughter to the party. Not knowing this, I didn’t think too much about her 2 1/2 year old daughter who was hugging, slobbery kissing and otherwise dispensing cutesy love all over my children…Until two days later when everyone in our house has a horrible sore throat, ear aches and fevers. And now the story comes out. I’m thrilled. May more people take your advice, and my death ray glares, to heart.

    Hope you’re all feeling better soon!

  2. rjlacko Says:

    I had no idea that Synagis is so outrageously pricey. What a good Dad you are, looking out for your kids.
    You’ve raised a great point: there are situations where RSV can prove fatal–those who were born preterm (especially multiple birth!), or within 6 months of the onset of RSV season, or suffer from chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, immunodeficiency, exposure to second-hand smoke or have a family history of asthma. Sadly, even regular daycare attendance can put a person at risk.
    All the best to you, Dad! Thanks for your comment.

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