If you have a little one in your whānau, you need to take extra care to keep them safe at the moment. This is the advice from Gisborne Hospital Paediatrician Dr Shaun Grant.
Many areas of New Zealand are being hit hard by outbreaks of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). So far Tairāwhiti has not been badly affected. “With people travelling out of the district for the school holidays, we expect that this will change. Gisborne Hospital is preparing to manage if we get extra cases of respiratory illness in children,” says Dr Grant.
“RSV is a common virus that is seen every winter and most children will catch this sometime before they turn two years of age. Last year the COVID lockdown reduced the number of RSV infections in New Zealand. There are therefore a lot of tamariki (children) who have never had this virus who are catching it now,” explains Dr Grant.
“In adults and older children, RSV is one cause of the common cold. Most babies and infants who get this virus will have a cough and a runny nose. Most get better by themselves with support from their whānau. Some babies, particularly young infants, can get quite unwell from this virus. They may have to work harder to breathe or have difficulty feeding. These are the children who may need extra help to recover. It is important to remember, however, that most babies and infants who get this virus will only have a cough and runny nose and will get better without needing any treatment.
“If your baby or child has a fever, runny nose or cough please keep them at home. Encourage them to drink normally. If they feel miserable then giving some paracetamol may help. If they are unable to drink well or they are working harder to breathe it is important to have them assessed by a doctor or nurse. If you are worried about your infant or child please call Healthline 0800 611 116 or your GP.
“Finally, as adults we can help protect our tamariki (children). Please stay home if you are unwell and stay away from young children if possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, and wear a mask if you may be infectious. Following these precautions will help our tamariki to stay well.”
More information about RSV infection please visit www.kidshealth.org(external link)