Parents warned keep babies away from people with colds to avoid life-threatening bug

PARENTS have been warned to keep babies away from people with colds to avoid a life-threatening bug.

The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) says RSV can be dangerous for little ones.

It says ideally, people with colds should stay away from newborn babies, premature babies, children under two years old with heart or lung conditions, and those with weakened immune systems.

As a parent, you ask that anyone who handles your child washes their hands regularly.

Smoking around babies and children is also not advised – especially if they are unwell.

Dr Conall Watson, Consultant Epidemiologist for the UK Health Security Agency, said: “For most people RSV means a common cold.

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“But it is easily spread and is the leading cause of bronchiolitis in infants – inflammation of small airways in the lungs. 

“Most cases clear up without treatment, but it can lead to hospital admissions in babies and young children, including intensive care. 

“If a child under two has a cold, monitor their symptoms for signs like breathlessness or reduced feeding and if you are concerned, speak to your GP or NHS 111.”

The early symptoms of bronchiolitis are similar to those of a common cold.

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It can develop into a high temperature, a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding and rapid or noisy breathing.

Parents should seek medical help if their child or baby's temperature won't go down, is feeding less, has a dry nappy or seems tired and irritable.

And it's an emergency if their little one is having difficulty breathing, or is pausing for a long time between breaths, and has blue lips or tongue.

The prevalence of RSV is low at the moment, at 0.7 per cent compared to 15 per cent last summer.

In five-year-olds, positivity is at 3.6 per cent.

RSV is usually more commonly spread in winter months, but has shown unusual out-of-season peaks.

This is because immunity to the bug and many others dropped while Covid lockdowns were in place.

Many infants who missed time in nursery or preschool during the pandemic may face an RSV infection.

Usually, by the age of two, almost all infants will have been infected with RSV and up to half will have had bronchiolitis, the NHS says.

For most babies and children who get the virus, they will only have mild symptoms which can be looked after safely at home.

Around three in every 100 will have symptoms severe enough to need treatment in hospital.   

RSV can develop into bronchiolitis – a serious chest infection that affects the smaller airways of the lungs (called the bronchioles). 

Other bugs in the classroom

It comes as the nasty norovirus bug spreads in schools.

It's also known as the winter vomiting bug, with people being struck down with sickness and diarrhoea.

UKHSA data shows that cases of norovirus are now on the rise – and are mainly increasing in educational settings such as schools, colleges and universities.

Just last month it was reported that cases were 48 per cent higher than had been expected for this time of year.

In the last two weeks cases have only been 18 per cent lower than the five-season average.

The UK hasn't really seen an outbreak of the vomiting illness since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Covid is rife with one in 11 primary school children infected.

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The statistics, from the Office For National Statistics, reveal around three children in every primary classroom had the bug in the last week of March.

It is often an even milder illness in youngsters.

Symptoms to watch for

The main symptoms of RSV are:

  1. Similar to those of a common cold, such as a runny nose or cough
  2. A slight high temperature
  3. A dry and persistent cough
  4. Difficulty feeding
  5. Rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing)

The main symptoms of norovirus are:

  1. Being sick (vomiting)
  2. Feeling sick (nausea)
  3. Diarrhoea
  4. A high temperature
  5. A headache
  6. Aching arms and legs

The main symptoms of Covid are:

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Feeling tired or exhausted
  3. An aching body
  4. A headache
  5. A sore throat
  6. A blocked or runny nose
  7. Loss of appetite
  8. Diarrhoea
  9. Feeling sick or being sick
  10. Fever
  11. Cough
  12. Loss or change to sense of smell or taste

To find out when these conditions are serious, and if you should get medical help, read more on the NHS website.

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