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What should I know about RSV?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, is a very common respiratory virus that is most prevalent from November to March. While symptoms caused by RSV are usually mild and resolve on their own, a small percentage of infants and young children can develop more severe symptoms. Parents of young children should remain particularly vigilant during fall and winter and watch out for any signs of breathing difficulty.

Please read below for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about RSV. For more information, please visit the CDC website. And remember, always consult your primary care provider or your child’s pediatrician with any further questions you may have.

RSV symptoms are similar to those of a common cold and typically resolve in one to two weeks. These symptoms include:

-Runny nose
-Decreased appetite

RSV can also cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia. In rare cases, RSV can lead to severe breathing difficulties and a bluish discoloration around the lips. These cases require immediate medical attention.

To stay up to date on the latest information on potential symptoms, please visit the CDC website.

People of any age can catch RSV, and almost all children get an RSV infection by age 2. Most people who are infected experience only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, the following groups are at higher risk for more severe symptoms:

-Premature infants
-Young children with congenital heart or chronic lung disease
-Young children and adults with weakened immune systems
-Older adults, especially those with heart or lung disease

To stay up to date on the latest information, please visit the CDC website.

RSV spreads similarly to a common cold or seasonal flu. You can become infected if:

  • An infected person coughs or sneezes near you.
  • You have close or intimate contact (kisses, hugs, etc.) with an infected person.
  • You touch an infected surface and then touch your face before washing your hands.

To stay up to date on the latest information, please visit the CDC website.

While there is a vaccine to prevent RSV infection, it is only available to pregnant women and people ages 60 and older. If you’re ineligible for the RSV vaccine, you can still reduce your risk of infection by taking the same precautions as you would against the common cold:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.

To stay up to date on the latest information, please visit the CDC website.

Although there is no specific treatment for RSV, most RSV infections go away on their own within a week or two. Over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers can be used to reduce symptoms, although aspirin should never be given to children. To stay up to date on the latest information, please visit the CDC website.

RSV can easily be mistaken COVID-19 or seasonal flu, which are also respiratory illnesses prevalent during the fall and winter. However, these viruses can vary in their symptoms, severity, and who they most impact. Learn more about the differences between these three viruses and how you can protect yourself against each one this fall and winter.