Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV)
Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.
People infected with RSV usually show symptoms within 4 to 6 days after getting infected. Symptoms of RSV infection usually include
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
These symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once. In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties.
Almost all children will have had an RSV infection by their second birthday.
Most RSV infections go away on their own in a week or two.
There is no specific treatment for RSV infection, though researchers are working to develop vaccines and antivirals (medicines that fight viruses).
Take steps to relieve symptoms
- Manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (Never give aspirin to children.)
- Drink enough fluids. It is important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids).
- Talk to your healthcare provider before giving your child nonprescription cold medicines. Some medicines contain ingredients that are not good for children.
RSV can spread when
- An infected person coughs or sneezes
- You get virus droplets from a cough or sneeze in your eyes, nose, or mouth
- You touch a surface that has the virus on it, like a doorknob, and then touch your face before washing your hands
- You have direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV
People infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days. However, some infants, and people with weakened immune systems, can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as 4 weeks. Children are often exposed to and infected with RSV outside the home, such as in school or child-care centers. They can then transmit the virus to other members of the family.
To protect your child from RSV please:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash your hands often.
- Cover your coughs & sneezes.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
For more information, please click here to visit the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).