Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is increasingly recognized as an important pathogen in immunocompromised adults, particularly those receiving bone marrow transplants, and, given the ease with which it spreads, represents a significant nosocomial problem. We describe an outbreak of RSV infection involving eight patients on a haematology/oncology ward which was controlled by early screening of patients and staff. Positive patients were cohort nursed on a separate ward and basic infection control measures including use of gowns and gloves were enforced. Children under age 12 were denied ward access. All patients with lower respiratory tract infection, and bone marrow transplant recipients with upper respiratory symptoms, were treated with nebulized ribavirin. There were no deaths. We conclude that awareness of the risk of RSV infection in immunocompromised patients coupled with rapid diagnosis and treatment, screening of symptomatic patients and staff, cohort nursing of cases and basic infection control procedures can prevent spread of RSV infection and reduce morbidity.
Copyright 2000 The Hospital Infection Society.