How to prepare for RSV season

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) season usually runs from November to April in Canada. Here's what you can do to prepare for RSV season:

Learn more about RSV. To make sure you're fully prepared, make sure you know how RSV is spread, its symptoms, signs of serious health problems related to RSV, when to seek medical attention (see "What do I need to know about RSV"), and how to reduce the risk of infection (see below). To find out more about getting informed, see "How to learn more about RSV."

Take steps to reduce the risk of RSV infection. RSV is spread by coughing and sneezing, by close physical contact, and through infected surfaces (such as toys). Secondhand smoke also increases the risk.

To reduce your baby's risk of infection:

  • Do not smoke. Make your home and car smokefree, and keep your baby away from secondhand smoke.
  • Wash your hands often, especially before touching your baby.
  • Keep your baby away from people who are sick with fevers or colds, especially if your baby is premature or under 2 months of age.
  • Keep countertops and other surfaces clean in your home, and wash toys frequently. Do not share drinking glasses.
  • Avoid crowded places where your baby will be exposed to large numbers of people. This will reduce the chances that your baby will come in contact with people infected with RSV.
  • If possible, breast-feed your baby for at least 6 months after birth. This can help reduce their risk of infections, including respiratory infections.
  • For babies at high risk of RSV complications (see "RSV complications: Is my baby at risk?"), a medication called palivizumab may be used to reduce the risk of serious infections with RSV. Side effects may include redness or swelling at the injection site, nervousness, or fever. Check with your doctor to see whether this option would be appropriate for your baby.

Talk to your doctor. Before RSV season starts, speak to your doctor about whether your baby is at risk of serious complications from RSV infection and, if so, what you can do to reduce your baby's risk.

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