Respiratory synctial virus (RSV), which can be fatal, is up 85 percent in Arizona this season compared with its last season. RSV season is typically October through March in Tucson.
As of Feb. 16, 409 cases had been confirmed in Pima County. The disease hits infants particularly hard. Nearly 2,000 cases have been reported statewide.
Dr. Moira Richards, a neonatologist and medical director of TMC for Children, offers the following tips to prevent RSV infection and other diseases in newborns:
• Get good prenatal care during pregnancy.
• Get screened for group B strep in the third trimester of pregnancy. Group B streptococcal (strep) infection is a serious bacterial infection that is a leading cause of death and disability in newborns. Having a baby by cesarean section does not prevent the transmission of group B strep bacteria.
• Breastfeed. Breast milk gives mom's antibodies to the baby, protecting from infections. Formula does not offer this protection.
• Limit exposure of your newborn to people, especially now because it's RSV and flu season.
• Limit a newborn's exposure to the outside world for the first two months, especially during RSV season. RSV is passed very easily, by contact.
• Wash hands with soap and water; limit antibacterial cleansers.