RSV threat to vulnerable children and hospitals preventable

Miami, Jan 24 (EFE).- Representatives from governments, international institutions, medical associations and care organizations are to participate on Thursday in a virtual meeting on the impact of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in Latin America.

The one-hour meeting, moderated by journalist Glenda Umaña, will take place via Zoom on January 26 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern US time (4:00 p.m. GMT).

The objective of the event is to educate the public about RSV and to publicize preventive alternatives for premature newborns and children with problems with congenital heart disease or bronchopulmonary dysplasia in the region.

Confirmed panelists include the Minister of Health of Argentina, Carla Vizzotti; Alejandro Cravioto, a professor of Microbiology and Public Health at the National Autonomous University of Mexico; the director of the Department of Pediatrics of the Latin American Association of the Thorax, Lydiana Avila; and Martha Herrera Olaya, director of the Fiquires Foundation of Colombia.

After the presentations, there will be a roundtable with questions and answers, followed by the conclusions of the meeting.

RSV is a major cause of respiratory illness in children and usually causes mild cold-like symptoms, but can cause more serious infections in babies born prematurely, with congenital heart disease, or with bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

RSV outbreaks increase during the winter season and in tropical areas during the rainy season.


According to the Pan American Health Organization, the high activity of RSV has overloaded the healthcare systems in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, and the United States, leading to hospitals reaching their capacity limit.

RSV is the leading cause of pediatric hospital admissions worldwide.

International organizations estimate that 33 million infections occur in children under five years old each year, with approximately three million requiring hospitalization.

Around 60,000 children die each year from RSV, mainly in developing countries.

Symptoms of RSV include continuous coughing or wheezing, rapid breathing, runny nose, and/or sunken chest when trying to breathe, bluish color around the mouth or nails, and fever.

The virus can spread through saliva particles emitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes, through direct contact with the virus (when touching an infected surface), or when someone with the virus touches or kisses a child’s face.

Although there are no vaccines approved by any regulatory authorities, there is a preventive medication called palivizumab that reduces hospitalization rates in premature infants.

Palivizumab prevents RSV infection in newborns at high risk due to prematurity, congenital heart disease, or bronchopulmonary dysplasia and reduces the risk of hospitalization by 45-55%.

It is given once a month for five months, beginning before the respiratory syncytial virus season each year.

The medication is currently approved in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, and Colombia.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the population at risk are premature newborns, babies, especially in their first semester of life, children with chronic lung disease, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or congenital heart disease present at birth, children with weakened immune systems and children with neuromuscular disorders.

Thursday’s event can be followed on YouTube at EFE

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