Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection in Children
Among children under the age of 5 years, RSV infection results in approximately 1 of 334 hospitalizations, 1 of 38 visits to an emergency department, and 1 of 13 visits to a primary care office each year in the United States. An estimated 2.1 million children under 5 years of age with RSV infection require medical attention each year. Among these children with RSV-related illnesses, approximately 3% are hospitalized, 25% are treated in emergency departments, and 73% are treated in pediatric practices. Of those seen as outpatients, 61% are between 2 and 5 years of age.
Risk Factors for RSV
In this study by Hall and colleagues, characteristics that were most frequently associated with RSV illness requiring hospitalization included male sex, chronic coexisting medical conditions, lower socioeconomic status, smoke exposure, lack of breast-feeding, and contact with other children. None of these factors independently correlated with illness severity except for young age and prematurity.
What drug is used for RSV prophylaxis in high-risk infants and children?
A: Palivizumab (Synagis) is used as prophylaxis against RSV as a monthly injection in high-risk children. There is no RSV vaccine available.
New England Journal of Medicine - Vol. 360, No. 6, February 5, 2009
Hall CB et al. The burden of respiratory syncytial virus infection in young children. N Engl J Med 2009 Feb 5; 360:588.