Antigua and Barbuda is one of the Caribbean countries that have recently started to record cases of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.
The Head of the Pediatric Unit at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC) said her department has also been seeing cases of seasonal illnesses.
“We have seen several children who have been affected by what many persons termed as a flu-like illness. Some have been affected mildly, moderately way and even in a severe way, some of whom have required oxygen administration and some of whom we had to cover with antibiotics because they have had an additional bacterial infection,” she said
Parents are warned that they should seek immediate medical attention if they suspect that their child is breathing fast and hard, wheezing, or have a persistent cough for more than three days.
“Parents please look out for the red flags. If you recognize that your child working hard to breathe, pulling in between the rib, if you recognize that can hear your child wheezing while standing next to them, seek immediate medical attention.”
“If you have a child who is less than one year who has fast breathing, persistent cough, and runny nose for more than three days seek medical attention. If the child is not as active as they use to be, that’s another reason for referral to hospital or see a health care provider”, Dr. Belle-Jarvis advised
She said parents and caretakers must leave children at home when they are ill.
“Don’t try to wipe up their runny nose and send them out. Keep them at home for at least 3-5 days, Once they start improving, with no fever, no cough, then then they can be involved in other activities,” she said.
RSV is a contagious virus. Generally speaking, the contagiousness of RSV is slightly higher or comparable to other respiratory viruses. One person with RSV may potentially transmit the virus to several other people.
You can transmit the virus for 3 to 8 days after contracting RSV. The virus can remain contagious in some people for longer.
You can reduce your risk of contracting RSV by taking preventive steps, such as avoiding contact with people who are sick, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding crowded public places where you can’t keep your distance from others.
Several other Caribbean countries have reported cases of RSV.
There’s currently no vaccine available for RSV.