A simple nasal swab test could measure the severity of RSV in children

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By Cara Murez

Health Day Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — While it’s not possible to tell parents how long their child will need to stay in the ICU with a severe case of RSV, new research has unearthed clues that could make it easier to get around predict which children will need a longer stay.

To study the problem, researchers at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago used nasal swabs from children with RSV in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) within days of hospital admission.

The team looked at which genes are activated in response to RSV, also known as respiratory syncytial virus.

Despite the same RSV levels and clinical presentation, some children showed signs of more extensive damage to the cells lining the inside of the nostrils. Researchers found that this correlated with longer PICU stays.

“We were thrilled to find that the severity of a child’s illness is related to the different sets of genes that are activated in their body’s response to RSV,” said lead study author Dr. Bria Coates, critical care physician at Lurie Children’s. “The ability to identify which infants with RSV in the ICU will recover quickly and which patients will require a longer stay would provide parents and medical staff with invaluable information.”

Although exciting, these findings need to be validated in a larger group of children before they can be used clinically, Coates noted.

“It is at this point that we have seen that more severe nasal mucosal injury in children with RSV can be a marker of a dysregulated response to the virus and can predict longer illness,” Coates said in a hospital news release. “These are promising results that could ultimately provide parents and the care team with better answers.”

The results were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on RSV.

SOURCE: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, press release, November 2, 2022


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A simple nasal swab test could measure the severity of RSV in children
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