Following the recommendations of the Higher Council for Infectious Diseases (Conseil supérieur des maladies infectieuses, CSMI), the Ministry of Health has announced the introduction in Luxembourg of a treatment to prevent lower respiratory tract infections caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in newborns and infants. This new prevention option will be available from autumn-winter 2023-2024.
Availability and recommendations for RSV preventive treatment
This new immunisation, administered by intramuscular injection and consisting of the monoclonal antibody Nirsevimab, can be offered to newborns from birth in maternity wards, starting with the autumn-winter 2023-2024 season.
It is recommended for the following categories of children:
- All newborns born during the period of high RSV circulation (from October 1 to March 30 each year) with an intramuscular injection preferably before discharge from the maternity hospital.
- For the 2023-2024 season, non-immunised children born after 1 January 2023 will receive an intramuscular injection at the start of the RSV high circulation season (from October 2023).
- From 2024, all infants under 6 months of age born outside the RSV high circulation period (April to September) with an intramuscular injection at the start of the RSV high circulation season.
- Children aged over 12 months with underlying conditions that increase the risk of serious RSV infection (one intramuscular injection per year up to the age of 2 years).
Protection against RSV will be available in all maternity wards in the country and from paediatricians, who will be able to order it for their patients from the Health Directorate. For more information on the preventive treatment and its availability, please contact your paediatrician.
The bronchiolitis epidemic and its consequences in winter
Bronchiolitis is a very common respiratory infection in infants and children under the age of two, particularly during the winter months. It is most often caused by RSV, which leads to inflammation of the respiratory tract: nose, throat and bronchi. In infants, the bronchial tubes are small and are more easily blocked by secretions, requiring the child to make sometimes considerable efforts to breathe. In some cases, particularly in infants under 6 months, bronchiolitis can lead to serious complications, including hospitalisation. According to figures from the KannerKlinik at the Centre hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL), between November and December 2022, 263 children under the age of 2 had to be admitted to hospital following a diagnosis of bronchiolitis.
Respiratory infections caused by RSV during the winter period lead to a net increase in hospital admissions and may therefore be the cause of hospital overload during the winter season.
Respiratory infections caused by RSV are estimated to affect 60% of children under the age of 1 and almost 100% of children under the age of 2, sometimes more than once per season. It is one of the main causes of consultations with general practitioners and paediatric emergency departments, as well as being the main cause of hospitalisation during periods of peak incidence.
Maintaining preventive measures to avoid transmission of the disease
It is important to remember that family and healthcare professionals should continue to follow existing vaccination recommendations and take preventive measures to reduce the risk of bronchiolitis.
The recommended protective measures to limit the transmission of bronchiolitis include: washing hands regularly, airing indoor spaces, limiting close contact or wearing a mask, particularly with people who are ill, and avoiding crowds and gatherings during the winter season.
For further details on the CSMI's recommendations, go to the "Recommandations nationales" (in French) section in the "Espace professionnel" of the sante.lu website.
Press release by the Ministry of Health