The ABC’s Of RSV: Everything you need to know about Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

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RSV can be so scary! Find out everything you need to know about Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and how to prevent it with the ABC’s of RSV. This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with MedImmune and Latina Bloggers Connect

When Bummie my #3 was 14 months old she developed a severed cough. It started off as a simple cold but then it became brutal overnight. A cough so bad she would throw up every time she began coughing fits. We rushed her over to the doctor in the morning only to find out she had RSV.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common, seasonal virus contracted by nearly 100 percent of babies by their second birthday.  Growing up in Miami I had never even heard of RSV because it was something you never dealt with.

Although RSV is extremely common, many parents are unaware of the dangers that RSV presents to their children. I was surprised to find out that Hispanic Babies are at an Increased Risk of Developing Severe Seasonal Illness like RSV.

In fact, two-thirds of Hispanic mothers have never heard of RSV, and one in five Hispanic moms only becomes aware of RSV once their child has contracted the virus. Which was my case!

Data has indicated that infants from African-American and Hispanic communities are at increased risk of developing severe RSV disease. The virus often leads to a mild respiratory infection, but in some babies, such as preemies, it can develop into something much more serious due to their underdeveloped lungs and immature immune systems.

Each year in the United States, half a million babies are born premature, and amongst Hispanics, the preterm birth rate has grown six percent over the last decade. Currently, one in eight Hispanic babies is born premature and it is likely that high prematurity rates are a reason for increased risk of RSV within Hispanic communities. Studies have also shown that on average, Hispanic families have more children, therefore babies often have siblings and extended family who interact with other children, go to school, and often care for them – which creates more opportunity for RSV to spread to the baby.

All parents—especially those with babies at increased risk for contracting RSV—must understand key facts about RSV to protect their children.

Learning the ABCs of RSV is a simple way to keep your family healthy during RSV season.

A is for Awareness:

RSV is a common seasonal virus, contracted by nearly all children by the age of two, and typically causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms in healthy, full-term babies. Preterm infants, however, are born with undeveloped lungs and immature immune systems that put them at heightened risk for developing severe RSV disease, often requiring hospitalization.

IT also occurs in epidemics each year, typically from November through March, though it can vary by geography and year-to-year

• RSV disease is the leading cause of hospitalization for babies during their first year of life in the United States with approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 400 infant deaths each year

RSV disease is responsible for one of every 13 pediatrician visits and one of every 38 trips to the ER in children under the age of five


B is for Babies:

Premature babies(those born before 37 weeks gestation)are most at risk for developing severe RSV  because they have underdeveloped lungs and fewer antibodies to fight the virus than babies born full term.

Sadly, Amongst Hispanics, the preterm birth rate has grown six percent over the last decade. Currently one in eight Hispanic babies is born premature and it is likely that high prematurity rates are a reason for increased risk of RSV within Hispanic communities.

C is for Contagious:

RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Additionally, the virus can live on the skin and surfaces for hours. Learn the symptoms of severe RSV disease and contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

• Persistent coughing or wheezing

• Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails

• Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths

• Fever [especially if it is over 100.4°F (rectal) in infants under 3 months of age]

There is no treatment for RSV disease once it’s contracted, so prevention is critical.

A pediatrician is the best way for mothers to get answers to their child’s health issues, but one in three Hispanic mothers has made a decision to avoid or postpone proper treatment for their child because of healthcare costs. In addition to talking to their children’s doctor, parents can help protect their children from contracting RSV by:

• Washing their hands and ask others to do the same

• Keeping toys, clothes, blanket and sheets clean

• Avoiding crowds and other young children during RSV season

• Never letting anyone smoke around your baby

• Steering clear of people who are sick or who have recently been sick

Speak to your child’s pediatrician to determine if your baby is at high risk for RSV disease, and if so, what additional steps may be recommended.

Thankfully once we took Bummie to the doctor she was started on breathing treatments and didn’t need hospitalization. It was a very scary episode for us and I realized how important it was to protect our little ones from something that strikes so quickly, yet could be prevented if we took the appropriate measures.

For more information about RSV and prevention, visit

Everything you need to know about Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

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  • Reply Gracie

    I had never even heard of RSV until today. When it says its untreatable after baby has caught it does that mean baby is just sick for ever or does it act much like chicken pox, when baby’s body eventually gets it out of heir system?

    January 12, 2019 at 12:22 am
  • Reply Kadie

    What a great resource! I can’t imagine how scary it is to have a little one go through this but being knowledgeable is always a step in the right direction – even if I hope I never have to apply the knowledge!

    March 5, 2014 at 8:39 am
  • Reply Britni Bradford

    What a great little graphic to go with this. Thankfully, if DD has had RSV, she’s been in the group of kiddos where it just presents as a cold and we didn’t know it. Now that we’re about to have #2 though, it’s a good reminder of the symptoms and what to watch for. It seems like it can be very scary to go through with a little one.

    March 3, 2014 at 3:37 pm
  • Reply Jeannette

    Thank you for posting! We haven’t had to deal with RSV for either of my little ones yet but I am SO careful and take precautions VERY seriously. We actually had to take a class on RSV before we left the NICU with my youngest/….it is nothing to play around about!

    March 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm
  • Reply Michelle W.

    Wow, scary but good information!

    March 1, 2014 at 12:57 am
  • Reply Suzzanne

    Thanks so much for letting us know about this, I was unaware.

    March 1, 2014 at 12:39 am
  • Reply Dorothy Boucher

    wow , that is scary and to think that they have no antidote but for you to try to stay clean, another thing is why does it persist to attack african americans or latino,.. well i do hope more people became aware of this, to protect there child or children.. scarey
    thanks for share @tisonlyme143

    February 28, 2014 at 8:26 am
  • Reply Serenity

    That is terrible and so scary, thank you for educating me

    February 27, 2014 at 3:00 am
  • Reply Elizabeth Ekiss

    Thanks for posting. So scary to think about, but as parents we need to know these things. Hope everyone stays safe and healthy this season!

    February 26, 2014 at 5:59 pm
  • Reply Bonnie W.

    Wow- I didn’t know all this. thank you so much for posting about it!

    February 26, 2014 at 2:20 pm
  • Reply Karen H

    This is scary! My niece had RSV at just 2 weeks. She was hospitalized for an entire week and it would seem like she’d be getting better and then her oxygen levels would drop again. VERY scary!

    February 26, 2014 at 1:28 pm
  • Reply Shannon

    Wow I have never even heard of this at all. I don’t have a baby but thank you for sharing this with us.

    February 26, 2014 at 3:44 am
  • Reply Morgan E.

    I used to babysit and the little baby caught RSV. Her mother didn’t know what it was called when she brought her and said her doctor said it wasn’t contagious, just was like asthma (because she got bronchiolitis along with it). Later I figured out that it was RSV and I was so upset because I understood how contagious it was and I didn’t want my infant to catch it (she was just a few months older than the baby I was babysitting). Anyway, my daughter did end up catching it because it is highly contagious. We spent probably three months battling cough and running nose. Thankfully it never got bad or secondary infections. But I am the type that when my baby is sick I keep her home till she is no longer contagious. It was a long few months of being home and not seeing anyone. Shortly after that the baby I babysat got sick again and got us all sick and I quit. It just wasn’t worth the doctor visits anymore. I hope none of my other children catch RSV when they are infants. It is not a fun virus (but then again, what virus is?)!!!

    February 25, 2014 at 9:45 am
  • Reply Marcia Lee

    I have never heard of any of my friends or relatives babies having RSV. Thank you for your post and for symptoms to look out for.

    February 25, 2014 at 12:49 am
  • Reply Erin K.

    What an informative post! I am a mother of 3 and we have (thankfully) not had a severe case RSV in our family. I didn’t even know about RSV until recently. Thank you for shedding light on this illness and for giving tips on how to prevent it.

    February 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm
    • Reply ConservaMom

      It can be very scary to go through it. It’s something we don’t really talk about that much and is very dangerous.Thanks for stopping by!

      February 24, 2014 at 8:47 pm

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