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Respiratory syncytial virus epidemic in newborns, the alarm in Italian hospitals

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It is alarm for the epidemic of respiratory syncytial virus that is affecting very young children throughout Italy, with pediatric wards and intensive care in hospitals full of infants and babies with bronchiolitis and pneumonia caused by the virus.

In Padua there are 16 small patients, 4 of whom intubated in intensive care, “at the Policlinico Umberto I in Rome 10 hospitalized, of which 2, just one month old, in intensive care, but also in the other regions the situation is similar . An epidemic arrived 2 months early, “he reports Fabio Midulla, president of the Italian Society for Childhood Respiratory Diseases (Simri), full professor of Pediatrics at Sapienza University and head of the pediatric emergency room at the Policlinico Umberto I in Rome, consulted by beraking latest news Salute.

Covid, the alarm of the experts: “Children most affected by other infections”

by Valentina Arcovio


The little ones risk more

“The virus – he explains – if contracted in the first months of a child’s life, causes severe forms of bronchiolitis, with clinical manifestations in the lower respiratory tract, while in older children and adults it resolves with mild symptoms, such as nasopharyngitis, fever or cough. But newborns are often protected by maternal antibodies that are transmitted through the placenta, but this time it was not so – notes the expert – and the epidemic that usually arrives in December-January broke out 2 months in advance. We expected this because for a year and a half the virus did not circulate thanks to the anti-Covid measures (hand washing, masks and social distancing). But as soon as these measures were relaxed, the older siblings returned to kindergarten or school, and with a population without antibodies the virus began to circulate, immediately and earlier than usual, and is giving serious forms in the very young “.

No vaccines, the only weapon is prevention

The pediatrician recalls that there is no specific vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus (Rsv – Respiratory syncytial virus), but “there are three trials in phase III of vaccines for mothers and therapies with monoclonal antibodies, however, indicated only for premature babies and particularly fragile, such as heart patients “.

Waiting for the maternal vaccines, “therefore, the main weapon remains prevention – specifies Midulla – which consists of precautionary measures such as hand washing, masks, disposable handkerchiefs to always throw in the garbage, distancing in the case of a sick older brother and not sending the children to school before they are healed “, because they represent a source of contagion.

What children risk

But what do babies risk, especially those who end up in intensive care? “Fortunately – explains President Simri – the risk of death, unlike in developing countries, is very low in Italy, but the virus can leave permanent damage, starting with the development of adult asthma, which occurs in 50% of cases. Without forgetting – concludes the specialist – that treating these children, who occupy beds in pediatric wards and in intensive care units, represents a very high cost for society, during hospitalization, but also afterwards. And to say that it would be enough always follow simple rules of hygiene “.

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