Health officials are warning parents of young infants to be extra cautious with their babies, following a recent rise in cases of the respiratory syncytial virus.
According to Reporter, increasing numbers of young infants caught RSV in the last two months with many cases ending up at Nicosia’s Makarios Children's Hospital for treatment.
In one case, a newborn just over two weeks old was infected with RSV and had to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for an entire week. It was not immediately clear whether the infant was at the hospital when it got infected.
State pediatrician Maria Koliou, an infectious disease specialist at Makarios hospital, said there were currently two confirmed cases of RSV while two other suspected cases were also being monitored.
RSV enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth, so the virus can be transmitted when an infected adult sneezes next to a baby
According to Koliou, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Cyprus, there was a rise in cases over the last two months but numbers had dropped in the last few days.
“Last year, because we had an increase in the outbreak of the flu, compared to this year, RSV cases had remained low. When the flu was contained, (RSV) showed up again,” Koliou said.
The doctor also said she was not surprised with the occurrence of the respiratory syncytial virus, “but it has been high,” she remarked.
Respiratory syncytial virus, a fairly common infection in most children by age 2, causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract. RSV enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth, so the virus can be transmitted when an infected adult sneezes next to a baby.
While it can also infect healthy adults who typically exhibit symptoms of mild symptoms mimicking the common cold, RSV can cause severe infection in some people, especially premature babies, older adults, infants and adults with heart and lung disease, or anyone with a very weak immune system.
Parents are told to seek immediate medical attention if their child has difficulty breathing, a high fever, or a blue color to the skin, particularly on the lips and in the nail beds.