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Nurs Clin North Am. 1993 Sep;28(3):651-71.

Respiratory syncytial virus.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Memorial Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60614.


A great deal of medical research and subsequent literature has been devoted to understanding and defining RSV as a dangerous respiratory pathogen. Careful assessment and preventative measures are the hallmarks of nursing care for the infants or young children with RSV. Acknowledging this seasonal virus and recognizing its potential effects, particularly on children and their families, is fundamental to the provision of effective pediatric health care. This appreciation is imperative in creating an environment focused on the containment of community-acquired RSV infections and the prevention of its nosocomial transmission. Additional research may someday allow us a greater understanding of the immune response to RSV, provide effective and safe antiviral agents, and yield vaccines to prevent primary and subsequent RSV infections. In the interim, however, we must apply our current knowledge and available tools to minimize RSV's destructive effects. Consistent use of basic infection control disciplines, such as appropriate handwashing, early identification of infected patients, careful placement of RSV-infected patients, and protective placement of high-risk patients, is necessary to prevent the nosocomial spread of this disease. In addition, policies restricting visitors with respiratory infections and prudent assignment of health care workers with respiratory infections need to be established and fully implemented. Strict and consistent compliance with these procedures will significantly decrease the incidence of RSV disease and subsequent morbidity and mortality in the pediatric population.

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