A child is more at risk for RSV if he or she is around other people with the virus. RSV often occurs in yearly outbreaks in communities, classrooms, and childcare centers. RSV is more common in winter and early spring months.
RSV can affect a person of any age. Most babies have been infected at least once by the time they are 2 years old. Babies can also be reinfected with the virus. Infection can happen again anytime throughout life. RSV infection in older children and adults may seem like an episode of severe asthma. Babies born prematurely or with heart, lung, or immune system diseases are at increased risk for more severe illness.
Symptoms start about 2 to 5 days after contact with the virus.
The early phase of RSV in babies and young children is often mild, like a cold. In children younger than age 3, the illness may move into the lungs and cause coughing and wheezing. In some children, the infection turns to a severe respiratory disease. Your child may need to be treated in the hospital to help with breathing.
The most common symptoms of RSV include:
The symptoms of RSV can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Antibiotics are not used to treat RSV. Treatment for RSV is done to help ease symptoms. Treatment may include:
Talk with your child’s healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all treatments.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies at high risk for RSV get a medicine called palivizumab. Ask your child's healthcare provider if your child is at high risk for RSV. If so, ask about monthly injections during RSV season to help prevent infection.
To reduce the risk for RSV, the AAP recommends all babies, especially preterm infants:
Also make sure that household members wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner before and after touching a baby with RSV.
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider: