Urgent warning to parents as 100,000 children die each year from a common bug

PARENTS have been urged to know the signs of a widespread bug that kills 100,000 children every year.

Respiratory syncytial virus is the killer of thousands of children under the age of five worldwide.

RSV kills thousands of children around the world every year


RSV kills thousands of children around the world every yearPhoto credit: Getty

A new 2019 study found that one in 50 deaths in children under the age of five and one in 28 deaths in children under the age of six months was due to RSV.

Harish Nair, co-author of the article published in the Lancet, said: “RSV is the predominant cause of acute lower respiratory tract infections in young children and our updated estimates show that children under the age of six months are particularly at risk.

“Particularly with cases surging as Covid-19 restrictions are eased around the world and the majority of young children born in the last two years have never been exposed to RSV (and therefore have no immunity to this virus).

“With numerous RSV vaccine candidates in the pipeline, our estimates by narrower age groups help identify groups that should be prioritized, including pregnant people, so that children in the youngest age groups can be protected, similar to current strategies targeting vaccines.” offer against whooping cough cough, typhoid and tetanus for pregnant women.”

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In 2019, there were 33 million RSV-associated acute lower respiratory tract infections in children under the age of five worldwide.

This resulted in 3.6 million hospital admissions, 26,300 in-hospital deaths and 101,400 deaths attributed to RSV.

Xin Wang, study co-author, Nanjing Medical University, China and University of Edinburgh, added: “Our study estimates that three quarters of RSV deaths occur outside of hospitals.

“Early detection of cases in the community and referral of sick children (particularly children with low peripheral blood oxygen saturation) for hospitalization, as well as universal, effective and affordable immunization programs will be critical going forward.”

RSV is a very common virus and almost all children are infected by the age of two.

In older children and adults, RSV symptoms include cough, runny nose, runny nose, and fever.

The positivity rate for RSV — the percentage of people tested who get a positive result — peaked at around 16 percent in July this year.

Although it has fallen slightly, experts forecast it will rise as the colder months roll in.

In some cases, RSV can become life-threatening.

Some children under the age of two, especially those born prematurely or with heart disease, may have more serious consequences.

RSV can progress to bronchiolitis, an inflammatory infection of the lower airways that can make breathing difficult.

Other risk factors for bronchiolitis are not breastfeeding, contact with a smoker and siblings at school.

Bronchiolitis usually heals on its own after about two weeks and you can take care of your child at home like you would with a cold.

The signs you shouldn’t ignore

Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious, but see your GP or call NHS 111 if:

1. You worry about your child

2. Your child has eaten less than half his usual amount in the last two or three meals, or has had a dry diaper for 12 hours or more

3. Your child has a persistent high temperature of 38°C or more

4. Your child seems very tired or irritable

5. Your child has not had a wet diaper for 12 hours or more

Dial 999 for an ambulance if:

6. Your baby is breathing heavily or very quickly

7. There are long pauses in your baby’s breathing

8. Your baby’s tongue or lips are blue

9. You can’t wake your child or if he wakes up, he doesn’t stay awake

It’s particularly important to seek medical advice if your baby is less than 12 weeks old or has an underlying health condition, the NHS says.

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Jessica MacLeish

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