RS virus epidemic in the premature ward of a Berlin clinic
According to media reports, the respiratory syncytial virus (RS virus) is currently rife in the premature ward in Vivantes Klinikum Berlin, which can cause serious respiratory diseases, particularly in babies and toddlers. According to the daily "B.Z.", ten children in the clinic are infected with the RS virus. The chief physician of pediatric and adolescent medicine at Vivantes Klinikum Friedrichshain, Hermann Girschick, confirmed the RS virus epidemic to the newspaper and emphasized that a "general Berlin-wide problem" was to be assumed here.
While the RS virus is not a particular health threat for adults and healthy children, premature babies are at increased risk because their immune systems are not yet fully developed. The pathogens cause a flu-like infection, with typical cold symptoms such as fever, runny nose and cough, up to an ear infection or acute bronchitis. To prevent the pathogens from spreading further in the Vivantes Clinic, the infected children were isolated and extensive hygiene measures were carried out. However, the pathogens are extremely easy to transmit because, for example, they can survive for several hours on surfaces of disposable gloves and stethoscopes. The Robert Koch Institute explains: "RSV can survive in respiratory secretions for 20 minutes on hands, 45 minutes on paper towels and cotton coats and up to several hours on disposable gloves, stethoscopes and plastic surfaces."
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), RS viruses are one of the "most important pathogens of respiratory infections in infants, especially premature babies and toddlers." Their prevalence in the general population has been underestimated for a long time. Today the RKI assumes "an incidence of 48.5 cases and 5.6 severe cases per 1,000 children in the first year of life worldwide". According to the RKI, around "two percent of RSV respiratory diseases in young children" are fatal. In Europe, RS virus infections can be observed from November to April. According to the RKI, RS virus infections in older infants and young children are considered the "most common cause of diseases of the lower respiratory tract" and related hospital admissions. By the end of the second year of life, almost all children had had at least one RS virus infection. In addition, RS viruses are "one of the most important causative agents of nosocomial infection (hospital infection) and pneumonia (pneumonia) in infants and young toddlers." (Fp)
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