RSV: FAQs for Parents
Synagis Respiratory Syncytial Virus Monoclonal Antibody or Palivizumab
What is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a very common virus. It infects half of all children during their first year of life and by age 5, all children have been infected at least once. Respiratory infections caused by RSV are most common during the winter months. While most infections are mild, RSV can cause severe illness in infants who were born prematurely or who have heart or lung problems. Up to half of these infants who become infected need to be hospitalized for breathing difficulty. Some infants get sicker than others because premature infants and infants with serious heart and lung conditions have underdeveloped immune systems that are less able to fight infections.
What are the symptoms of RSV illness?
Symptoms of RSV illness may include wheezing, nasal congestion, rapid breathing, cough, irritability, retractions (indrawing between the ribs), poor feeding, sluggishness, fever and turning blue (cyanosis).
How can you reduce the risk that your infant will be infected?
RSV is highly contagious and is usually spread from person to person by hand contact. For example, if an infected person wipes his or her nose and then touches a table, the virus may be transferred to the table, where it can remain infectious for several hours. If a mother touches the table, then touches her baby, the baby can become infected.
During the RSV season (November through March in this region), you can reduce your baby's risk of exposure to the RSV virus by keeping your baby away from places likely to be contaminated with the virus. These include daycare centers, grocery stores and shopping malls. Other precautions include keeping your baby away from adults and other children who have colds and washing your hands when arriving home and before handling your baby. It's also very important to have a smoke-free home, because tobacco smoke makes your baby's lungs more irritated and sensitive.
What is Synagis (Respiratory Syncytial Virus monoclonal antibody or palivizumab)?
Synagis is a drug that has been shown to offer protection against RSV illness in many infants and children at high risk. In recent studies, Synagis was shown to reduce the need for hospitalization for RSV disease in treated patients. In the same study, the days in the hospital were reduced by 55 percent in the children who were hospitalized for RSV disease.
How does Synagis protect against RSV?
Synagis is a potent, specific RSV-neutralizing antibody given by intramuscular injection (a shot in the leg). When given to your baby, these antibodies increase his or her immunity to RSV. These antibodies last approximately one month, so Synagis is given monthly during the RSV season.
Which infants should receive Synagis?
Synagis is given to infants at highest risk for severe RSV infection. These include many infants with a history of prematurity, heart disease and chronic lung disease (CLD) who are less than 3 months, 12 months or 24 months of age at the onset of RSV season, depending on the medical condition. The decision to give Synagis to your baby is based on your doctor's opinion of your baby's risk.
How is Synagis given?
Synagis is given intra-muscularly (IM) by injection in the hospital or at home by Rady Children's HomeCare. It may be given once a month, during the RSV season, for one to five total doses.
What are the side effects of Synagis?
Most infants who receive Synagis experience few or very minor side effects. Possible side effects include upper respiratory tract infection (cold symptoms), otitis media (ear infection), rhinitis (runny nose), rash, pain, hernia and pharyngitis (sore throat). After your baby's injection, your nurse will observe your baby for 20 minutes by checking your baby's temperature, pulse and breathing rate to see if he or she is experiencing any side effects.
Other possible side effects include:
- Allergic reaction (such as swelling, rash, excessive irritability)
- Prolonged tenderness at the infusion site
- Nausea and/or vomiting
After the injection, if your baby experiences any of the above side effects while at home or if you have any other concerns, call your doctor immediately.
Are there any other risks?
Synagis should not be used in children with a history of a severe prior reaction to Synagis or other components of this product.
If you have any other questions…
For insurance authorization questions or concerns, please contact the HomeCare Intake Coordinator at 858-966-4941:
- A - Cn Artemiza, ext. 3535
- Co - Ki Denise, ext. 6961
- Kj-Ph Nina, ext. 6924
- Pi-Z Melissa ext. 3542
For clinical questions, concerns, please contact:
- HomeCare 858-966-4941