According to data from the Spanish Society of Emergency Pediatrics, the incidence of bronchiolitis has increased by 16% in 2009. The transmission of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes this disease, has been facilitated by low temperatures and rain. Dr. Octavio Ramilo, director of Infectious Diseases in the Nationwide Children's Hospital of Columbus, and professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University, warns, in addition, that it is very possible that the virus remains active until May or June, so preventive treatment should not be abandoned until the danger disappears.
According to Ramilo, bronchiolitis is the first cause of hospitalization in the world in children under one year of age and the first cause of severe respiratory infections in the first years of life. Dr. Raúl Ortiz de Lejarazu, head of the Microbiology and Immunology Service of the Valladolid Hospital, affirms that the percentage of children suffering from bronchiolitis has doubled in the last seven years.
Babies, the most vulnerable to bronchiolitis
Bronchiolitis is a disease caused by an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract, which becomes inflamed and filled with mucus, making it difficult to breathe. It especially affects babies and young children, especially during the first two years of life. The most common symptoms are cough, mucus, respiratory distress (fatigue, wheezing ...) and loss of appetite.
Dr. Enriqueta Román, head of the Pediatrics Service at the Puerta de Hierro hospital in Madrid, explains that babies are the most vulnerable, especially during the first twelve months, because at this age they have not yet developed the necessary defenses, and it is in this period when they have their first contact with the virus.
Although the disease is usually mild, it can be aggravated in certain patients with other associated pathologies, such as premature babies with lung or heart disease, or a weakened immune system. Dr. Roman warns that, in these patients, the risk of hospitalization for RSV is ten times higher than that of children who were born at term.