In the United States, pediatric hospitals have been overwhelmed for two weeks now. The reason is one of SARS: respiratory syncytial infection (RS infection). Mostly children under 2 years of age are affected. The number of deaths has exceeded a hundred. The infection can be similar to the common cold, but it can also be very severe, even fatal. And this season there are especially many such cases, as evidenced by mortality. And the outbreak itself began 1-2 months earlier. In Russia, RS infection is also not uncommon.
What kind of disease is this, aif.ru tells Candidate of Medical Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department of Infectious Diseases in Children, Russian National Research Medical University named after N.I. Pirogov Ivan Konovalov:
— Respiratory syncytial virus (RS-virus) has always occupied an important place among other pathogens of SARS, it often causes severe illness in children, especially in the first year of life. The development of bronchiolitis is associated with MS infection. In this condition, inflammation of the bronchioles occurs — these are the thin final «branches» of the bronchial tree connecting it with the alveoli — the respiratory sacs. Their defeat causes respiratory failure, as the air begins to pass with difficulty into the alveoli, in which gas exchange occurs — the flow of oxygen into the blood.
Remotely, the condition is similar to an attack of bronchial asthma, but the development mechanism is different, and drugs for its treatment with bronchiolitis do not help. The only effective remedy in this situation is active oxygen therapy. Also, RS infection is especially dangerous for premature babies with a deficiency of surfactant (a surfactant that prevents the alveoli from sticking together), they may develop a dangerous complication, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, due to the need for high doses of oxygen. Such a course of MS infection can lead to severe lesions of the lower respiratory tract, up to death.
The problem is that there are no vaccines or direct antiviral drugs to treat MS infection. Therefore, for prevention, premature babies are given special monoclonal antibodies against the RS virus (palivizumab). This procedure begins at discharge from the maternity hospital and continues throughout the «cold» season until the first 6 months of the child’s life. And in the presence of congenital severe pathology of the cardiovascular system, formed bronchopulmonary dysplasia, immunodeficiencies or cystic fibrosis — up to 2 years. In the Russian Federation, the purchase of this drug is carried out according to federal programs, ensuring its free administration according to the relevant indications.