Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection in Children with Neuromuscular Impairment

Arne Simon*, Julia Prusseit, Andreas Müller
University of Saarland, Paediatric Oncology and Haematology, Infectious Diseases Kirrberger Str., Building 9, 66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany

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* Address correspondence to this author at the Oberarzt Pädiatrische Hämatologie und Onkologie, Zentrum für Kinderheilkunde am Universitätsklinikum, Adenauerallee 119, 53113 Bonn; Tel: 0049-228-28733254; Fax: 0049-228-28733301; E-mail:


Clinically obvious reasons why children with neurological impairment (NMI) may be more severely affected in case of a viral respiratory tract infection include reduced vital capacity due to muscular weakness or spastic scoliosis, disturbed clearance of respiratory excretions (weak coughing and dysphagia), inability to comply actively with physiotherapeutic interventions, recurrent micro-aspirations (gastroesophageal reflux disease, vomiting related to coughing), a history of frequent exposure to antibiotics and health care institutions, colonization with resistant pathogens, impaired immunologic defence mechanisms due to severe malnutrition and cachexia, and early clinical deterioration in case of high fever with metabolic acidosis and hypercapnia, and maybe associated seizures or febrile convulsions.

Data from the literature suggests that in all children with NMI, who have to be hospitalized with severe clinical deterioration due to an airway infection, at least one specimen of nasopharyngeal secretions should be sent as soon as possible to a virologic laboratory to detect viral pathogens. Children with severe NMI and those mechanically ventilated for other reasons being hospitalized during the RSV season must be strictly protected against nosocomial RSV infection by means of standard and droplet precautions. Finally, children with severe NMI and age below 24 months of life should receive passive immunization with palivizumab following international recommendations.

Keywords: respiratory syncytial virus, infants and children, neuromuscular impairment, hospitalization.