Background: The mortality rate from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis has significantly reduced over the last decade. A major concern now is the long-term respiratory morbidity following RSV bronchiolitis.
Methods: In this prospective study, we randomly assigned 49 previously healthy infants with severe RSV bronchiolitis, early in the course of illness (< 5 days duration), to receive either conservative treatment (n = 21) or additional ribavirin treatment (n = 24). Both groups were closely matched for age and clinical characteristics.
Results: During a prospective, closely monitored, 1-year follow-up period, the group treated with ribavirin had significantly fewer episodes (2.7 ± 2.3 episodes vs 6.4 ± 4.2 episodes per patient per year) and reduced severity of reactive airway disease (0.08 episodes vs 1.09 episodes of moderate-to-severe illness per patient per year) and respiratory illness-related hospitalization (25 hospital days vs 90 hospital days per 100 patients per year).
Conclusions: Early ribavirin treatment of RSV bronchiolitis in previously healthy infants resulted in reduction of incidence and severity of reactive airway disease as well as respiratory illness-related hospitalization.