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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Facts

  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that can cause colds and pneumonia.
  • Most children will get RSV infection by the time they are 2 years old.
  • RSV is highly contagious and easily spread from person to person.
  • RSV can also survive on hard surfaces (such as doorknobs or tabletops), and infection can happen when someone touches an object contaminated by an infected person and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eyes without first washing his or her hands. Transmission of RSV can also be passed from infants to adults if an adult kisses an infected child on the face.
  • Signs and symptoms of RSV include runny or stuffy nose, decreased appetite, cough, sneezing, fever, wheezing, sore throat, and earache.
  • There is no specific treatment for respiratory syncytial virus. In mild to moderate infections, home care is usually all that is needed.
  • Home remedies to help relieve symptoms of RSV include drinking plenty of fluids, using a humidifier, saline nasal drops, rest, and over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • The prognosis for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is good. Most people fully recover within two to eight days.
  • Complications of RSV include pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup, and ear infections.
  • Respiratory syncytial virus can be prevented with the usual proper hand washing hygiene that is followed to prevent the common cold.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/9/2017
Medical Editor:

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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) - Symptoms

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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) - Treatment

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RSV infection

What Causes Colds?

Viruses cause colds. Most cold-causing viruses are very contagious and are transmitted from person to person. Some facts about common colds are as follows:

  • Although colds have been with humans likely for eons, the first common cold virus was identified in 1956 in England, so the history of the cause of colds is relatively recent.
  • Of the viruses that cause a cold, the most commonly occurring subtype is a group that lives in the nasal passages known as the "rhinovirus." Other less common cold viruses include coronavirus, adenovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).


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