The respiratory syncitial virus (RSV) is responsible for bronchiolitis, a lung infection of children under two years of age. The infant develops a cough and wheeze, shortness of breath and a runny nose. In severe cases, the child may be very weak, blue around the mouth and dehydrated.
Antibiotics cannot cure this viral condition but are sometimes given to prevent pneumonia. Bronchodilator medications may be used but often are of little help. Placing the child in a warm room with a humidifier, or in a steam tent may give relief. More severe cases will require hospitalisation, where steroids are given and oxygen may be administered into a steam tent to assist with breathing. Tribavirin is an antiviral medication that was introduced 1999 to treat severe bronchiolitis.
The vast majority of cases settle without complications in a few days to a week.