What is RSV?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes cold-like symptoms. Unlike a normal cold, RSV can lead to serious illness, mainly in babies and older adults. There is no RSV vaccine, but there are ways to help not get the infection.
- It is a virus, which can spread from person to person and that may infect your lungs and breathing passages.
- Most people have had an RSV infection by age 2.
- You can get the disease more than once.
- Most people heal from the disease in a week or two, but RSV can be severe, mainly in children six months of age and younger, in older adults and in people with weakened immune systems.
- RSV usually goes up in the fall, peaks in the winter and goes down in early spring.
Babies and young children may have a fever, not very hungry, runny nose, cough, and wheezing. Older children and adults may have a runny nose, sore throat, headache, cough, and a just feeling sick.
How RSV spreads
RSV spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, sending respiratory droplets into the air. These droplets contain RSV and can end up in other people’s mouths or noses, where they can cause infection. The droplets can also land on objects that people touch, such as toys or countertops. People can be exposed to and/or be infected with RSV by touching these objects and then touching their eyes, mouths or noses. Children often pass the virus to each other at their school or daycare.
To help not spread RSV, people who have coldlike symptoms should:
- Cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing;
- Wash their hands often with soap and water for 15–20 seconds;
- Try not to share cups, knives, forks or spoons with others,
RSV also can lead to worse illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis, in young children and older adults. If you think that you or your child might have an RSV infection that needs medical care, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.