Thursday, October 1, 2009

It is RSV season again

Dear Family and Friends,

Brandon has been out and about enjoying the world since RSV season came to an end on May 1st. He has been loving going to all of the places where we have taken him. Unfortunately RSV season started again today and will last until April 1st.

If you are not aware of RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, you are among the majority. Most people have not heard of RSV, even though nearly every child has had the virus by age two. For full-term babies, RSV typically is not any worse than a common cold, but for preemies, the virus can be quite different. Babies born earlier than 36 weeks are at the highest risk for serious complications like pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and other sometimes fatal complications.

Brandon was a micro preemie of low birth weight and therefore is considered at high risk for contracting RSV and developing serious complications. This website offers a great visual comparison of a preemie’s lungs compared to the lungs of a full-term baby:

We are going to have to be careful about taking Brandon out into the world again. He will continue to go to the babysitters, go for walks, go to friend's houses as long as they are healthy, and this year we will be able to take him to places if they are not crowded (the mall in the morning during the week, shopping at the grocery store early in the morning, etc.) but will have to once again avoid crowded places that are enclosed. Even though Brandon is almost 15 months old and at least 20 pounds (a big difference than the 1 pound, 14 ounces he was born at) his lungs are still underdeveloped and he can still easily get RSV. We don't know if he will qualify for RSV shots this year so we are going to have to take certain precautions.

Preventing the spread of RSV is very difficult. Thus, we must be vigilant about keeping Brandon safe during RSV season (October through April). The virus is spread through physical contact, in the air via a cough or sneeze, or by touching an infected object. The virus can live as long as six hours on hands and up to twelve hours on objects, and it spreads very easily, especially from child to child. Studies have also shown that infants pose an even higher risk of spreading RSV to others.

You may ask, “Can’t he fight it off and build up his immune system? Kids need to get sick, right?” The simple answer is NO, not yet. Since Brandon was pre-term, he did not acquire the necessary immunities to fight off infection. If he contracts RSV, he could be hospitalized and develop serious complications.

We’ll be asking our visitors and those we see outside of the home to follow a few guidelines to help prevent Brandon from contracting RSV or any other illness.

We ask that you do the following:

1. When you arrive, please wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) and use hand-sanitizer as needed before touching Brandon. If you see us out and about, use hand sanitizer before coming close.

2. Please, do not get in Brandon's face, including kisses. You could have an illness completely benign to you, that could devastate him.

3. Please refrain from coming over if you are currently sick and have not been symptom-free for at least five days (or more depending on your particular case), if you live with someone who is sick, or have been in close contact with someone who is sick.

4. If you smoke, we ask that you change your clothing and refrain from smoking prior to visiting, as a preemie’s lungs are very sensitive to smoke. RSV recommendations are against passive smoke exposure.

Our goal is to make it through a second RSV season without Brandon contracting RSV or any other serious illness. His lungs are still very fragile until he is at least 2-years-old. We have to be mindful of this, especially as he continues to grow and appears to be so healthy!

Please understand that this letter is not meant to offend anyone, just simply to provide an explanation. We hope you understand, and we appreciate your help keeping our son safe. Everyone has done a great job so far of washing hands and being mindful of Brandon's health - we can't thank you enough. He's been through a lot, and with a few simple preventative measures we can get him through this winter so he can continue to thrive.

Here are several resources with additional information about RSV below.

Karen, Stu, and Brandon


Heather and Travis said...

Very well said. I am so nervous about this upcoming RSV and flu season. Hopefully people will follow this guidelines and both of our little ones will stay healthy and happy!

John and Heather said...

Karen - I love this explanation for RSV, do you mind if I steal it for my blog? It's the perfect balance of explanatin and tact!
Heather Thompson