Medical Officials Taking Steps to Lower RSV Rates in Children

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most important global cause of viral acute lower respiratory tract illness (ALRI) in infants and children. In the United States, approximately 150,000 infants are hospitalized each year with RSV pneumonia or bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways), and up to 2 million children under the age of 5 receive medical care for RSV infection. Globally, RSV is estimated to cause up to 34 million cases of ALRI and up to 234,000 deaths in children each year.

No vaccine currently exists for RSV, but researchers including CIR Director Dr. Ruth Karron are conducting clinical trials to evaluate investigational RSV vaccines. These studies, conducted by the CIR’s RSVPed Team evaluate the safety and efficacy of RSV vaccine candidates.

Dr. Karron discussed the importance of a licensed RSV vaccine in an interview with WMAR2News reporter Ashley James. “In young children, the virus can spread to the lungs and cause pneumonia or wheezing, dangerous wheezing illness. That’s what makes them so sick. And in very young children RSV can actually cause infants to stop breathing.”

Parents should be aware of RSV and it’s symptoms and take the necessary precautions to protect their baby from this dangerous illness.

Families can also participate in RSV vaccine clinical trials being conducted at the CIR to help develop a safe and effective vaccine. Dr. Karron says, “All of the vaccines that we have for children today wouldn’t exist if families didn’t have their children participate in research to develop those vaccines.”