Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
The most common cause of bronchiolitis in young children. Bronchiolitis is an infection of the bronchial tubes that causes rapid breathing, coughing, wheezing and sometimes, even respiratory failure, especially in the first two years of life. RSV infection and bronchiolitis is a particular risk for infants with chronic lung problems and those born prematurely.
The RSV season is usually from October to March and seems to start somewhat earlier in the southern states. RSV is spread by contact with secretions from an infected person. This can occur through an infected sibling, contact at a childcare facility or other areas where children interact.
Children at highest risk for RSV bronchiolitis should receive a special gamma globulin that reduces the severity of RSV infection. There is no good treatment for infection once it has started. A vaccine is being studied, but is not yet available.
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