Essay: Respiratory syncytial virus in neonatal nursery

Spread of RSV infection in pediatric wards is very common and it has been reported that 40% of the children admitted to the hospital get infected in winter months and 50% of health care workers also get infected (Aitken, 2001).

Outbreaks of RSV infections also occur in oncology and bone marrow transplant units. Individuals at a higher risk of RSV infection include children getting chemotherapy, premature children, elderly and immunocompromised patients (e.g. bone marrow transplant).

Therefore, it is very important to take measures to control spread of infections in pediatric, neonatal, oncology and bone marrow transplant wards. Firstly, it is important to screen the symptomatic patient using RSV rapid diagnostic test and keep him in complete isolation to prevent the spread of the virus. Gloves and gowns should be worn by everyone visiting the infected patient and gowns and gloves should be changed between patients so that virus is not transmitted from one patient to another. It is extremely necessary to wash hands use alcohol disinfectant after visiting the patient whether gloves were worn or not. This measure, if followed properly, can reduce the transmissibility to a greater extent.  The role of wearing masks and eye goggles is not clear and is not regularly followed. All the health care workers and visitors who have respiratory symptoms should be evaluated properly and should not be allowed to visit the patient. The number of visitors should be minimized. In order to increase the effectiveness of control, children under 12 years of age should not be allowed to visit the patient (Goldmann, 2001). Aerosolized Ribavarin has been shown to decrease viral shedding and reduce the severity of disease but its role in control of RSV infection has not yet been determined. Palivizumab is also a new drug which is used to prevent RSV infection in infants and young children but cannot cure the disease in those who have already been infected (Aitken, 2001).

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