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    What causes bronchiolitis?
    An airborne virus known as the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is responsible for about 80% of cases of bronchiolitis in babies and young children. Other viruses that can cause bronchiolitis include the Adenovirus and Rhinovirus.

    How do viruses such as RSV spread?

    Viruses are spread through tiny droplets of liquid from the coughs or sneezes of someone who is infected. The droplets can be breathed in directly from the air or picked up from a surface that they have landed on, such as a toy or table.
    For example, your child can become infected if they touch a toy that has the virus on it and then touch their eyes, mouth or nose. RSV and some other viruses can survive for up to 24 hours on hard surfaces.

    Children can be infectious for up to three weeks after getting bronchiolitis, even after the symptoms have cleared up.

    How can bronchiolitis be prevented?

    The viruses that cause bronchiolitis are very common and easily spread. It is, therefore, not possible to prevent the condition altogether, but there are some simple steps to reduce the chances of your child getting bronchiolitis. If your child already has bronchiolitis, then these steps can help prevent the infection spreading further.

    Wash your hands regularly with soap and water – especially before you touch the baby. Make sure siblings and visitors wash their hands too
    Cover your child’s nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze
    Try to keep away from other children and adults who show signs of a cough or cold
    Wash or wipe toys regularly to prevent the spread of germs
    Ensure your baby is kept away from tobacco smoke. Never allow anyone to smoke around your baby

    In some cases, babies with a high risk of developing severe bronchiolitis are given an immunisation to help protect them from RSV infection. Your paediatrician or neonatologist will give you further information and advice if your child is at high risk.

    G Mohan.

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