Nose swabs are commonly used to test for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is a leading cause of infant hospitalization. RSV is a highly contagious virus that causes severe respiratory illness in babies and young children. Early diagnosis of RSV is important because it can help doctors determine whether a child needs to be hospitalized and receive intensive care.
A new study has found that testing nose swabs for RSV in infants can help distinguish between those who will need longer intensive care and those who will not. The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, involved nearly 1,900 infants who were hospitalized with RSV.
Researchers found that infants who tested positive for RSV on a nose swab were more likely to need longer hospitalization and intensive care than those who tested negative. In addition, infants with positive nose swabs were more likely to be diagnosed with pneumonia, to require mechanical ventilation, and to have a longer hospital stay.
The findings suggest that testing nose swabs for RSV could help doctors identify which infants are at risk for more severe illness and thus may need more intensive care. This is particularly important because RSV can be a serious illness, and early diagnosis and treatment can make a significant difference in outcome.
Nose swabs may distinguish babies with RSV needing longer intensive care
Though not considered a serious illness in adults, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, can be quite dangerous for infants. In fact, each year in the United States, RSV is responsible for approximately 57,000 infant hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Now, a new study presented at the 2019 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting suggests that a simple nose swab can help doctors determine which babies with RSV will need more intensive care.
For the study, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center analyzed data from 1,497 babies who were hospitalized with RSV between 2015 and 2018. They found that those who tested positive for the virus using a nasal swab were more likely to need oxygen, have a longer hospital stay, or require Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission than those who tested negative.
What’s more, the researchers found that the rate of RSV infection was highest among infants who were between 1 and 3 months old, and those who had chronic lung disease or were born prematurely.
“This study provides important information that may help guide health care decision-making for infants hospitalized with RSV,” said study author Gary L. Freed, MD, MPH, in a press release. “We hope that as RSV testing becomes more widely available in the hospital setting, these results will help doctors and parents better understand which infants are at risk for more severe RSV illness and might benefit from more intense treatment.”