Every year, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a part of the paramyxoviridae family, sends 75,000 to 125,000 kids to the hospital and causes as many as 200 deaths per year in the United States. Worldwide, about 66,000 to 199,000 newborns are killed, mostly in developing countries from this disease since the population is more vulnerable due to inadequate healthcare. Although it is more common in newborns and young children, RSV also causes a great burden in the elderly population as it kills 10,000 elderly Americans every year. This number may or may not be higher because hospitals are not required to report deaths from RSV.
RSV infects almost every child by the time they turn two years of age. Usually, it causes a very bad cold but for some newborns, it brings about serious disease which main symptom is trouble breathing. Since there are many diseases that cause severe respiratory illness and there is really only one treatment, simple supportive care, RSV hardly gets diagnosed correctly. But RSV can be prevented with a drug called palivizumab which is monoclonal antibody that is approved for use in high-risk infants and children.