True or false: Most children get RSV.

  • True
  • False

RSV is very common in children under 2 years old. In the U.S., it’s the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lungs) in kids under 1 year old. About 58,000 children under 5 years old are hospitalized with RSV each year.


Besides very young children, the age group at highest risk of severe RSV is adults who are:

  • 25-40
  • 40-55
  • Over 65

Your risk for serious complications from RSV goes up after age 65. But adults with chronic heart or lung conditions, or weakened immune systems are also at high risk of a serious RSV infection, no matter what their age.


If you have RSV, you are commonly most contagious for

  • 48 hours
  • 3-7 days
  • 4 weeks

Most people are contagious during the 3- to 7-day period they have symptoms. Sometimes infants and people with weakened immune systems can continue to spread the virus for as long as 4 weeks


True or false: Once you get RSV, you can’t get it again.

  • True
  • False

Your immune system builds up an immunity for some viruses, but not RSV. You can get RSV multiple times, even within one RSV season.


True or false: Doctors treat RSV with antibiotics.

  • True
  • False

Since RSV is a virus, antibiotics (which kill bacteria) can’t treat it.


A common complication of RSV is:

  • Blindness
  • Pneumonia
  • Diabetes

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. RSV is the most common cause of pneumonia in babies under 1 year old.


True or false: RSV is a seasonal illness.

  • True
  • False

Just like the flu, RSV spikes at certain times of year. Cases in the U.S. increase starting in the late fall and last through the early spring.


True or false: RSV has no cure.

  • True
  • False

There aren’t any medications that cure RSV, but you can help prevent serious infection or getting it altogether by washing your hands often, not smoking, covering coughs and sneezes, and not sharing cups and cutlery with others.


You can get RSV

  • Through the air
  • By touching a surface
  • Both

RSV can enter your body through your nose, eyes, or mouth when you’re in close contact with someone who has it and they cough or sneeze. The virus can also live on hard surfaces for hours. If you touch a contaminated door handle or countertop and then touch your face, you can also get it.


True or false: There is no vaccine for RSV.

  • True
  • False

So far, experts have not found a vaccine to prevent RSV, but scientists are working to develop one.

Show Sources

IMAGE PROVIDED BY: ajr_images / Getty Images


Cleveland Clinic: “Respiratory Syncytial Virus in Children and Adults.”

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: “Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).”

MedlinePlus: “Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections.”

CDC: “Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV).”

Mayo Clinic: “Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).”