So you're probably asking yourself, "What is RSV?" RSV is a common, seasonal virus that causes symptoms similar to influenza and other viruses. In fact, studies have shown that clinically it is diffcult to distinguish between the two.2 Most of the time RSV causes only minor cold-like symptoms and children usually recover from the illness in 8 to 15 days. However, some infants and children, especially premature infants and children born with heart or lung conditions, may develop severe RSV disease which can lead to serious complications such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia, conditions that may lead to hospitalization.1,3
RSV can be highly infectious and can spread easily and quickly. If your child attends day care, is frequently in contact with other children that attend child care centers or school, or if your child is exposed to large crowds at shopping malls or other public places, your child may have an increased risk of getting an RSV infection.4
If your baby has an increased risk for developing complications from an RSV infection, talk to his or her healthcare provider to find out when RSV season begins in your area, as well as if there are any precautions you should take. To learn more about risk factors, see the section "RSV Risk Factors."
1Parenting and Child Health, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), (accessed 10/9/2008)
2Friedman, M.J., et al., Influenza A in Young Children with Suspected RSV Infection, Academy of Emergency Medicine, (2003)
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Respiratory Syncytial Virus web page, (accessed 9/4/2008)
4Mozingo, T.A, RSV When It's More Than Just A Cold. Healthy Children, Winter 2008, publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
5Collins P., Chanock R., Murphy B. Fields Virology. Fourth Edition.Volume 1. Chapter 45 - Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Lippincot Williams and Wilkins. (2001)
6Thompson, W., et al., Mortality Associated With the Influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus in the United States. JAMA, January 8, 2003 – Vol. 289, No. 2.
7Preemie Care, (accessed 9/4/2008)
8Mohapatra, S., Boyapalle, S., Epidemiologic, Experimental and Clinical links between Respiratory Syncytical Virus infection and Asthma, Clinical Microbiology Reviews, (July 2008)