Guest: Dr. Paul Cecchia
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Paul Checchia, M.D., serves as Medical Director of the Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Additionally, he is Professor of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He specializes in critical care of children with heart disease.
Segment overview: Doctor Paul A. Checchia MD, Professor of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and Cardiology, Texas Children’s Hospital discusses the current levels of Respiratory Syncytial Virus circulating and how to help protect your babies’little lungs.
Health Professional Radio – Levels of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Circulating
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to this Health Supplier’s Segment here on Health professional Radio I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. Nearly a 100% of infants contract respiratory syncytial virus or RSV by H2, yet many parents are unaware of the danger the disease and those dangers can be presented in a number of ways. Our guest in studio is Dr. Pauil A. Cechia, he’s a professor of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and he’s here today to talk with us about RSV. Welcome to the program Dr.
Dr. Pauil Cecchia: Thank you for having me.
N: Tell us a bit about yourself. Have you always been involved in pediatrics as a doctor?
C: Yes I have. And I gravitated towards this infectious in the intensive care unit side of things because I’m definitely more of the sure detention span adrenaline junky. Yes always got to deal with kids because they’re better than dealing with adults.
N: This virus, respiratory syncytial virus, I’ve never heard of it myself. Most of our listeners are health professionals themselves so maybe they’re much more familiar but school me on this virus.
C: It’s actually virus that’s been around we’ve known about for long time. It’s something that travels around with the flu at the same time. What ends up happening is the flu gets all the press but in reality RSV is something that comes up every single year as you said, it affects every child by the time the age of 2. And it actually represents the number 1 cause for hospitalization of children less than one year of age, year upon year. A bit of familiarity starts to breed complacency a little bit so people tend to almost forget about it, kind of get stuffed out of the knowledge but so many things are going around. As we all know during that exact same time period between the common cold viruses and Adenovirus and things like that. It’s just one other type of viral infection but for infants it seems to carry more significant risk than the others.
N: if it’s not just a regular cold, what should we be looking for?
C: For young infants it really goes after the lungs and attacks the lungs. For you and I RSV will just be a really, really bad cold with a lot of congestion. But as we got younger and younger age groups specifically the infants who are less just the few months old they’re the ones that have the greatest danger of it becoming a lower respiratory tract infection or lung infection that really lead to those difficulty breathing that we worry about with infants, inability to feed and inability to maintain enough oxygen in the blood stream. Those of the infants that people need to be most aware of.
N: You mentioned kids that are less than a few months old. What about those that are born prematurely, are they even at a greater risk than those that are born normally yet young?
C: Yes they are. In fact what we know about the virus is that, because when children are born premature, their lungs aren’t fully developed. RSV tends to do the most damage to those lungs and also premature born with lung disease or born with congenital heart defects of a variety of types, those are the ones that are the greatest risk. Every infant the younger they are has increased risk of severe RSV infection. But those premature infants, lung disease and heart disease they’re the one that really affects the most.
N: Does the virus, if left untreated for a time, does it transform into some other illness or does it gets worse and worse?
C: It gets worse and worse. It doesn’t transform in anything but the problem that we have is there is no medication to cure RSV. If they do end up contracting and they end up in my world in the intensive care unit all we can really do is just support them through the 7-14 days when it at it’s worst. That’s when they would end up on oxygen or ventilator to carry them through. It really is just a matter of being on the lookout for how it damages the lungs and from what directions it’s going.
N: Basically it’s just a watch over the patients and make sure that they’re as comfortable as can be and let this thing to run its course?
C: Yes, that is why since it’s all support of care only that’s why prevention is such a key. Unfortunately there’s no vaccine to fight it, but we do know that washing our hands frequently, protecting those most at risk infants with certain immune modulatory therapy that are available. Also, just being aware of crowds and who’s sick around a newborn infant, especially those most at risk. It is so important because there is no medication that is going to reduce that course once the child gets it.
N: Once you had your baby, are there anything that you can do as far as diet is concerned or maybe the types of formula? Or maybe mother’s breast milk? Any suggestions for effective prevention?
C: The number 1 prevention would be the wash your hands so that we don’t spread from one to another, that’s the number 1. Also it is interesting there is a protection that seems to be afforded by breast feeding. And it’s also made worse if infants are in homes of smokers, that’s another good reason to stop smoking. The prevention of basic principles of keeping things clean and keeping your baby out of harm’s way with other people who are sick are what we’re left with. Unfortunately RSV is so prevalent, it’s just whether we have lung capability to just fight through it versus most at risk infants.
N: Where can our listeners go and get some more resources about RSV and premature children and how it affects them even more?
C: I think the number 1 source is your own pediatrician, they’re the one that can have that dialogue with you whether there are risk factors or not. But we all go on the internet, we all search around and sometimes we find sites that are good or bad. One of which that I think is a lot of good reliable information is rsvprotection.com and that’s one that people can go to get good information about the infection.
N: It’s been great talking with you today Dr.
C: Thank you for having me.
N: You’ve been listening to the Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard on this Health Supplier Segment. In studio with Dr. Pauil Cechia, a professor in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and Cardiology in Texas Children’s Hospital. Transcript and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and listen on SoundCloud as well.