What causes respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection?Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a virus that attacks the mucous membranes of people's respiratory tracts (the nose, throat, windpipe, and the bronchi and bronchioles (the air passages of the lungs). RSV is the most common respiratory pathogen in infants and young children. It has infected nearly all infants by the age of two years. Seasonal outbreaks of acute
respiratory illness occur each year, on a schedule that is somewhat predictable in each region. The season typically begins in the fall and runs into the spring.
RSV transmission occurs by coming in contact with infectious material either from another individual or inanimate object. The secretions from the eye, mouth, or nose (and possibly from a sneeze) contain the virus. The virus can also survive for many hours on inanimate objects such as doorknobs, hard surfaces, and toys. It can also live on human hands for up to 30 minutes. In infants and young children, RSV can cause pneumonia, bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways of the lungs), and tracheobronchitis (croup). In healthy adults and older children, RSV is usually a mild respiratory illness. Although studies have shown that people produce antibody against the virus, infections continue to occur in people of all ages.
Each year up to 125,000 infants are hospitalized due to severe RSV disease; and about 1-2% of these infants die. Infants born prematurely, those with chronic lung disease, those who are immunocompromised, and those with certain forms of heart disease are at increased risk for severe RSV disease. Those who are exposed to tobacco smoke, who attend daycare, who live in crowded conditions, or have school-age siblings are also at higher risk.
More information on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infectionWhat is the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)? - Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a very common virus that causes mild cold-like symptoms in adults and older healthy children.
What causes respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection? - Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a virus that attacks the mucous membranes of people's respiratory tracts.
What're the signs and symptoms of RSV infection? - Signs and symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection include stuffy nose, cough, and sometimes ear infection.
What complications can result from RSV infection? - A person with a first RSV infection can develop severe breathing problems that need to be managed in the hospital.
Who is at risk for RSV infection? - Very young infants, and children with underlying lung, heart, or immune system problems are at high risk for severe RSV disease.
How is RSV infection diagnosed? - Diagnosis of RSV infection can be made by virus isolation, detection of viral antigens, detection of viral RNA.
What is the treatment for RSV infection? - Most people with mild RSV infections get better without treatment. RSV antibody and ribavirin to treat patients with compromised immune systems.
How can RSV infection be prevented? - RSV transmission can and should be prevented by strict attention to contact precautions, such as hand washing and wearing gowns and gloves.