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|Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection|
RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children under 1 year of age in the United States. Each year, 75,000 to 125,000 children in this age group are hospitalized due to RSV infection. Almost all children are infected with the virus by their second birthday, but only a small percentage develop severe disease.
Symptoms of RSV infection are similar to other respiratory infections. A person with an RSV infection might cough, sneeze, and have a runny nose, fever, and decrease in appetite. Wheezing may also occur. In very young infants, irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties may be the only symptoms of infection. Most otherwise healthy infants infected with RSV do not need to be hospitalized. In most cases, even among those who need to be hospitalized, hospitalization usually last a few days, and recovery from illness usually occurs in about 1 to 2 weeks.
RSV can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes into the air. Coughing and sneezing send virus-containing droplets into the air, where they can infect a person if they inhale these droplets or these droplets come in contact with their mouth, nose, or eye.
Infection can also result from direct and indirect contact with nasal or oral secretions from infected persons. Direct contact with the virus can occur, for example, by kissing the face of a child with RSV. Indirect contact can occur if the virus gets on an environmental surface, such as a doorknob, that is then touched by other people. Direct and indirect transmissions of virus usually occur when people touch an infectious secretion and then rub their eyes or nose.
There is no specific treatment for RSV infection. In the most severe cases of disease, infants may require supplemental oxygen, suctioning of mucus from the airways, or intubation (have breathing tubes inserted) with mechanical ventilation.