Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection - Cause
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is
highly contagious, meaning it spreads easily from person to person. There are
two main types of RSV and many subtypes (strains). For this reason, you cannot
immunity to the virus. And you may have many RSV
infections throughout life.
People with RSV infection may spread
the virus through their secretions (saliva or mucus) when they cough, sneeze,
or talk. You can catch the virus by:
- Touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus and
then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth without first washing your hands. The
virus can survive for more than 6 hours on countertops and other hard surfaces,
such as doorknobs, and for 30 minutes on hands, clothing, or tissue.
- Close contact. If an infected person coughs or sneezes near you,
you could breathe in RSV that's in his or her saliva or mucus.
The virus spreads easily in crowded settings, such as child
care facilities, preschools, and nursing homes. Children attending
school often spread the virus to their parents and siblings. The incubation
period—the time from exposure to RSV until you have symptoms—ranges from 2 to 8
days but usually is 4 to 6 days.1
are most likely to spread the virus within the first several days after
symptoms of RSV infection begin. You remain contagious for up to 8 days. Babies and young children may spread the virus for at least 3 to 4
Many different viruses can cause lower
respiratory tract infections in children. These viruses can cause symptoms that are similar to an RSV