Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
infection is a common illness that affects people throughout life. The first
infection is usually the worst and occurs in early childhood. About 9 out of
10 children have had at least one RSV infection by age 2.1
RSV infection spreads
easily where there are many people in one area, such as households, urban
areas, nursing homes, and child care centers. Because symptoms often resemble
those of the common cold, RSV infection is often not recognized. This virus is the most common cause of respiratory infection in
young children that requires hospitalization.
Flying to great-aunt Erma's house for Thanksgiving? Or taking a leisurely
wintertime cruise along the shores of the Mexican Riviera? Boost your chances
of healthy travel by taking a few preventive steps. That way, you'll cut your
risk of catching cold and flu from other plane passengers. And you won't be
confined to your cabin on the cruise ship, battling a nasty case of
gastroenteritis while other passengers are off enjoying the
An RSV infection is more likely to cause
serious complications in infants younger than 6 months of age, especially those
who were born prematurely or have another health problem. Bronchiolitis
is the major complication of RSV in infants.
Other people who have
an increased risk of developing complications include adults older than 65 and anyone with chronic health problems, especially heart disease, lung
disease, or immune system problems. In older adults,
pneumonia is a common complication of RSV.
Levin MJ, Weinberg A (2009). Respiratory syncytial virus disease section of Infections: Viral and rickettsial. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 1079-1081. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Primary Medical Reviewer
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
July 9, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
July 09, 2010
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