One of the illnesses that dads and moms worry about their kids getting is the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV. In this episode of The Lab, Dr. JJ Levenstein joins Daddy Brad to explain what the RSV virus is and how it can affect the lungs. She also tells parents what RSV symptoms to look for in their baby, when they should take their children to a doctor, and what treatments are available.
Male Speaker: I'm here with Dr. JJ who is the Founder of Boulevard Pediatrics in Encino, California and also one of the Co-founders of MDMOM's and she's going to give us some of the low down about RSV. Dr. JJ thanks for being here. Dr. JJ Levenstein: Oh! Thank you, it's great to see you again. Male Speaker: So tell us what is RSV? Dr. JJ Levenstein: RSV is a respiratory virus that attacks most communities from late fall until early spring and you or I it would look like a simple cold, but in a young person, especially a baby or a baby at risk with prematurity or chronic disease, this respiratory virus can quickly start in the nose, but moves itself into lungs and cause vary degrees of respiratory problems, sometimes wheezing and sometimes severe enough blood conditions toward hospitalization. Male Speaker: So adults get it, but it generally affects us much but the kids get sicker why is that? Dr. JJ Levenstein: Well, our lungs as I try to explain to our parents are kind of like big oak tree and actually have a little visual here. So if you can imagine that your lungs here is your trachea, here is your bronchi, your biggest trunk of the tree and branching off that are thousands and thousands of branches, so you get out to the leaves of the tree, which is kind of where your air stacks are healthy or alive. When RSV strikes what happens is that virus quickly goes down the trunk and out to the uppermost reaches of the oak tree or the respiratory tree and one can imagine as all these airways become clogged with mucous and with infectious products, that obstruction or blockage and some compromise of breathing may occur, especially if those areas are very young. Male Speaker: What is the kind of the onset of symptoms that parents should look for? Dr. JJ Levenstein: Typically RSV for the first couple of days, kids will just have buckets and buckets of snack probably it will work for me. Male Speaker: Right get the nose free. Dr. JJ Levenstein: After about the third or fourth day typically kids may have some fever. They may also start to have a chesty cough it might sound like they've been smoking Marlboro Reds -- but if the kids starts to breath fast or use their muscles of breathing in a harder fashion or they start to change color, if they turn blue or get very pale, those are the reasons to get to their healthcare provider immediately. Male Speaker: Are there treatments for RSV, what can you do for a child that represents with the disease? Dr. JJ Levenstein: Parent should humidify the environment, so they have humidifier vaporizer, it's fine. They can instill saline in the nose to liquify those secretions a little bit more and then suction of the baby's noses, if they are down out with the fever and the parent can give the fever relief medicine it will be okay with their of their healthcare provider and there are some kids who are so affected by this we have to put them in the hospital to support them with IV fluids with oxygen and with some deeper suction if that kid at the end of a week is not looking so great and sounding junky that they really should get them in to their doctor. Male Speaker: Now there is a shot and it's called Synagis is that how you pronounce it? Dr. JJ Levenstein: It's actually antibody to RSV and it was developed for very specific use in premature babies and also for use of the kids who have immune deficiencies or significant heart disease, unfortunately it can't be given to everyone because it's extremely expensive, it's thousands of dollars per course of therapy and the dose is need to be repeated monthly for some kids. Male Speaker: Yeah, I heard it's pretty expensive, but that because youngest had it, he was a preemie, so he said, thousand dollar a shot something like that. Dr. JJ Levenstein: Right, insurance that is very life saving because in the old days back the day when I first started to with my career, we would lose lots of kids every year in this country to RSV. Male Speaker: A lot of parent freaked out when their kids are diagnosed with the RSV, is it mostly kind of the real serious complications come with kids that have some kind of immune deficiency or breathing problem that's already there. Dr. JJ Levenstein: Right, so kids with chronic lung disease or any condition are probably more, more risk heart disease being one as well, but even the average normal child every once in a while can have a bad case of RSV. Male Speaker: So it's really important for parents to stay on top it like you mentioned earlier if it goes on and that's not doing better. Dr. JJ Levenstein: Absolutely, and but they also need to stay on top or be comforted by the knowledge that there are good sport measures for children who need to go to the hospital and if they haven't otherwise healthy child the outlook is almost uniformly good if they get prompt medical attention, we typically see a late fall to early spring of this year with H1N1s are overtaking all germ warfare in the fall, we've not seen RSV come up until right after the New Year this year. So it came a bit late and I fear it might stay late because our offices certainly follow that right now. Male Speaker: Yeah, my little one just got over it, but he's back at them, thanks Dr. JJ that is some great information about RSV and it will be good for parents that are really scared about this disease.