Nearly every child is infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) early in life. The virus usually clears up in a week or so, but in some cases, this “harmless” virus may persist and lead to chronic lung diseases like asthma, according to Reuters Health.
Researchers found that RSV can stay in the lungs of some mice and cause overactive airway symptoms associated with asthma. Previously, doctors thought that the body quickly cleared itself of this virus.
“Whether RSV persists in children remains to be seen, but the fact that the virus persists in mice is amazingly powerful,” said researcher Dr. Octavio Ramilo.
“This research suggests that there’s a potential new mechanism for asthma related to viral infections in children that could be associated with RSV,” said lead researcher Dr. Asuncion Mejias of the University of Texas Southwestern.
“These findings could aid in the development of preventive and therapeutic interventions for children with recurrent wheezing due to a virus such as RSV. We are currently doing a study in which we are treating kids with a new antibody that is very potent. The plan is to follow them for a year to see if aggressive treatment against the virus can prevent wheezing.”