Frequently Asked Questions About RSV

It is not uncommon for your infant or toddler to get sick with any number of illnesses, from a common cold, to ear infections, to a stomach bug. However, there is one illness that can be more dangerous for infants and toddlers that parents should be aware of: RSV. Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions you might have about RSV.

What Exactly Is RSV?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory disease that can infect people of all ages, including infants and young children. The virus causes an infection in the upper respiratory tract and the lungs. Although RSV is more common in the winter and spring months, your infant, toddler, or child can become infected with RSV any time of the year.

What Are the Symptoms of RSV?

Typically, the symptoms of RSV can at first mimic the common cold or the flu, including:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite

RSV becomes dangerous when the viral infection leads to another illness, such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis. If your infant or young child exhibits these symptoms, contact your pediatrician. It is especially important that if your newborn or very young infant becomes diagnosed with RSV that you monitor your baby closely, as this can be a very dangerous illness in infants.

How Is RSV Spread?

Just like the common cold or influenza, RSV is highly contagious and is spread through droplets that contain the virus. The virus is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs on another individual or a surface. RSV can live on surfaces and can be spread if your child touches that infected surface and then touches their face, mouth, eyes, or nose.

How Can I Prevent My Child from Getting RSV?

There is no vaccine, specific treatment, or cure for RSV. Luckily, in most cases RSV is mild, and your infant or child will recover without any serious complications. There are things you can do to help prevent your infant or child from catching RSV. During the winter and spring, wash your hands before touching your child and keep your child away from someone with any symptoms of RSV.

There is a monthly injection available that contains RSV antibodies that can be given to infants and children who are at-risk of developing more serious symptoms of RSV. However, these medications must be given monthly, as they do not protect your child for very long.

RSV is a common illness that can be serious for infants and very young children. If you have any additional questions, contact your child doctor.