Respiratory syncytial (sin-sish-EE-ul) virus (RSV) is a contagious infection of
the lungs and breathing passages.
More to Know
RSV is highly contagious
and a major cause of respiratory illness in young children. The virus spreads
through droplets in coughs or sneezes, or when someone touches a contaminated surface
(like a countertop or doorknob).
Most children have had an RSV infection by age 2. Older kids might have only
mild, cold-like symptoms (cough, stuffy nose, low-grade fever), but infants younger
than 1 year old may have more severe symptoms and trouble breathing. Most at
risk are premature babies and kids with diseases that affect the lungs, heart, or
Home care and making kids as comfortable as possible usually is enough to manage
RSV. Babies, though, might need to be hospitalized to watch for breathing difficulties
and other problems.
Keep in Mind
Thorough and frequent hand washing is key in preventing the spread of RSV. At-risk
infants can be given a monthly injection of a medication containing RSV antibodies
during peak RSV season (roughly November to April).
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