Vaccines and better treatment
There is no current licensed vaccine for RSV. The only current prevention strategy is with a drug called palivizumab. The drug is expensive and currently only given to children at high risk of severe disease, such as very premature infants. Researchers at the Telethon Kids Institute are undertaking a study to evaluate how much palivizumab is being used and how effective it is.
The Vaccine Trials Group has been investigating a potential vaccine against two of the most common causes of bronchiolitis - RSV and parainfluenza 3 (PIV). The trial vaccine is given via a nasal drop, making it needle-free. Another study is looking at whether oral treatment with nitazoxanide reduces the duration and severity of respiratory symptoms caused by bronchiolitis.
Determining the size of the problem
Researchers are using information that is stored on public records such as hospital records, routine laboratory records and birth records to gain a better understanding of how many children have been infected with RSV and how severe the infections are.
Mathematical modelling has demonstrated when RSV reaches its seasonal peak, leading to greater understanding about its transmission and seasonal factors that influence its spread. This study is now understanding how a future vaccination program in pregnant women may reduce the number of RSV infections and what are the climatic drivers (e.g. rainfall, temperature, humidity) of infection.
Understanding risk factors
A study found that babies born by elective caesarean were 11 per cent more likely to be admitted to hospital with bronchiolitis in the first year of life. Bronchiolitis also has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of asthma in children.