- 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.
- In fact, 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. It is also a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults.
Who is at risk?
Infants and young children:
- Premature infants
- Very young infants, especially those 6 months and younger
- Children younger than 2 years old with chronic lung disease
- Children younger than 2 years old with chronic heart disease
- Children with weakened immune systems
- Children who have neuromuscular disorders, including those who have difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus secretions
- Older adults, especially those 65 years and older
- Adults with chronic heart or lung disease
- Adults with weakened immune systems
How is RSV spread?
- RSV can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Coughing and sneezing send virus-containing droplets into the air, where they can infect a person who inhales the droplets.
- Infection can also result from direct and indirect contact with nasal or oral secretions from infected persons. Direct contact with the virus can occur, for example, by kissing the face of a child with RSV. Indirect contact can occur if the virus gets on an environmental surface, such as a doorknob, that is then touched by other people. Direct and indirect transmission of the virus usually occurs when people touch a contaminated surface and then touch their eyes, mouth, or nose.
Symptoms of RSV infection usually include
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
Most RSV infections go away on their own in a week or two. Fever and pain can be managed with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, with a healthcare provider’s approval. It is important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids).
People who have cold-like symptoms should:
- Cover their coughs and sneezes
- Wash their hands frequently and correctly (with soap and water for 15–20 seconds)
- Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils with others
- Refrain from kissing others
In addition, cleaning contaminated surfaces (such as doorknobs) may help stop the spread of RSV.