Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection - How to prevent it?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a leading cause of illness in young children and is also a prevalent global pathogen responsible for lower respiratory tract infections across all age groups. Approximately 60% of children are infected before the age of 1, and up to 80% have contracted RSV by the age of 2.

In Vietnam, recent erratic seasonal changes have triggered an upsurge in RSV cases.

What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), also known as RSV virus, is a type of virus causing respiratory tract infections such as throat inflammation, bronchiolitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Symptoms range from mild, resembling a common cold. However, the illness can progress to lung infections, especially in infants, young children, older adults, and individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, or underlying chronic diseases.

When RSV enters the body through the nasal passage, it induces nasal mucosa inflammation, thick nasal discharge causing airway obstruction, and respiratory distress. The virus travels through the bronchi and lung tissues, damaging lung air sacs, and may even lead to cell death in the respiratory tract.

RSV has two types:

  • Type 1: Causes high fever, severe prognosis
  • Type 2: Mild or absent fever

Symptoms of RSV virus infection:

A person infected with respiratory syncytial virus often has the following symptoms:

  • Runny or congested nose
  • Dry cough
  • Sneezing
  • Mild, high fever, or no fever
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Reduced appetite

 Complications of RSV virus infection:

Complications of respiratory syncytial virus include:

  • Pneumonia: RSV is the most common cause of pneumonia or inflammation of the lung's lower respiratory tract (bronchiolitis) in infants. Complications are more severe in infants, young children, immunocompromised individuals, and those with chronic heart or lung diseases, with the severity of pneumonia increasing in such cases.
  • Middle ear infection: If the virus infiltrates the space behind the eardrum, the patient may develop middle ear infection (otitis media). This complication is most common in infants and young children.
  • Asthma: Many studies have shown that young children with severe RSV infection are at risk of developing asthma as adults.
  • Some other serious and dangerous respiratory complications such as lung failure, collapsed lung, pneumothorax, pulmonary emphysema...

Preventive measures for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

To prevent children from contracting the virus, parents should incorporate certain supportive foods containing lysine, essential minerals, and vitamins such as zinc, chromium, selenium, B vitamins, etc. These aid in meeting nutritional needs while supporting the immune system, enhancing resistance, and reducing the risk of respiratory infections, bronchitis, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses.

Lysine is crucial for the child's development, promoting the production of digestive enzymes to stimulate better appetite and efficient digestion. It enhances food metabolism, maximizes nutrient absorption, and reinforces the immune system, reducing the risk of coughing and thinning mucus in children.