A severe childhood virus often goes undiagnosed, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, infects the lungs, mostly in children under five years of age. Symptoms can include fever, cough, earache, nasal congestion, wheezing and labored or shallow breathing.
A number of cases are properly diagnosed in hospitals. But the study authors say only three percent of children with RSV are correctly diagnosed in a doctor's outpatient office. As a result, the researchers say the total number of RSV cases a year is more than 2-million, far more than doctors previously thought.
Once a child has RSV, he or she is more likely to get it again. It also is highly contagious for other children. Researchers hope the new findings will prompt more work toward developing vaccines against the disease.