Deadly Virus Infects More Babies
In what began as a routine examination of records, researchers have uncovered a mysterious jump in the number of U.S. babies sickened by a potentially deadly virus. As they report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the startled doctors found the number of toddlers and infants with bronchiolitis has soared as much as 200 percent. The rate for similar infections like pneumonia stayed the same. Bronchiolitis, mainly caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), jumped from 12.9 cases per 1,000 children in 1980 to 31.2 per 1,000 in 1996. Symptoms of bronchiolitis are wheezing, swelling of the lungs and oxygen deprivation.
Lead author Dr. David K. Shay of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, believes better diagnostic techniques have a lot to do with the spike. However, Dr. Michael Marcus, director of Pediatric Pulmonology at New York's Miamonides Medical Center, thinks the stale air that collects in modern, well-insulated houses and daycare centers in wintertime is a major cause.