Respiratory Syncytial Virus Pediatric Research and Clinical Trials

With H1N1 starting to recede and seasonal flu debuting, researchers in Children's Division of Emergency Medicine report a huge toll from another virus that's been hugely overlooked; respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Florence Bourgeois, MD, MPH, and colleagues studied children age 7 and younger who came to the Emergency Department (ED) with acute respiratory illnesses from 2001 to 2006. Among their finding, published in last month's Pediatrics:

  • Children infected with RSV had more than twice as many ED visits and six time more hospitalizations that those with seasonal flu.
  • Parents of children with RSV missed almost three times more workdays than parents of children with seasonal flu.
  • Parents of children under age 2 were nearly five times more likely to miss work when their child had RSV versus seasonal flu.
  • RSV-related illnesses were twice as likely as seasonal flu to lead to additional clinic visits and antibiotic treatment.

Though this study used data from the pre-H1N1 era, the flu-prevention measures preached here and everywhere — handwashing, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, staying home when sick — still apply. RSV strikes virtually all young children and is a common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia. It's a particular threat in premature infants, children with weakened immune systems and the elderly.