In Mato Grosso, between the months of February and July, the seasonality of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) occurs, the main causative agent of bronchiolitis, a respiratory disease that generates inflammation of the bronchioles, small branches of the bronchi that carry the air to the pulmonary alveoli. The incidence mainly occurs in children during the first year of life, due to the fact that their lungs are not fully mature and their immune system is still forming.
According to pediatrician and infectious disease specialist Sandoval Carneiro Filho, who is on staff at the Hospital and Pronto Socorro Municipal de Cuiabá (current Covid-19 reference hospital), the syncytial virus initially causes a cold and, in the most cases progress heal. But, in some cases, it can evolve in about 3 to 4 days towards a picture of respiratory discomfort, the child may present wheezing, coughing, sneezing, fever, runny nose, nasal obstruction, fatigue. The greatest risk of severity concerns premature children, cardiac or suffering from bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary so that the child is hydrated and receives ventilatory support.
According to pediatrician Sandoval Carneiro, the diagnosis of bronchiolitis is made with a clinical evaluation and additional tests may be ordered. He explains that, like most viral illnesses, there is no specific treatment for respiratory syncytial virus, but certain steps can be taken to prevent the illness. “Prevention is the same as for other respiratory diseases, such as avoiding contact with other children who have the flu, avoiding taking young children to closed and crowded places. In the case of high-risk children, palivizumab, an expensive drug that works like a vaccine, is indicated in specific and well-defined cases in a prescription from the Ministry of Health,” he says.
The doctor also points out that breastfeeding is a practice that can prevent not only bronchiolitis, but also several other diseases, because it helps the baby’s immune system. The Ministry of Health recommends that children be exclusively breastfed until six months of age, supplemented with other healthy foods until 1 year old, and prolonged for at least 2 years. “Breastfeeding is undoubtedly a form of prevention because breastfed children have a reinforced immunity”, specifies the doctor.
However, the pediatrician considers that when the child is in a serious state of bronchiolitis, breastfeeding may be suspended due to the fact that the respiratory rate is impaired, which can cause bronchoaspiration of breast milk.
In addition, the pediatrician and infectiologist warns parents that when they realize that their little child has difficulty breathing, fatigue and wheezing, they must consult a doctor as soon as possible.