The respiratory tract is the parts of the body related to breathing (respiration). It includes the nose, windpipe, air passages in the lungs, and the lungs. RSV is a virus that infects the respiratory tract.
RSV infections spread easily among babies and children, usually in winter and early spring
Nearly all children get the virus by age 4
RSV causes runny nose, fever, cough, and wheezing
Most children don't have problems, but severe infections cause trouble breathing and low oxygen levels
Someone can have RSV more than once, but symptoms are usually milder after the first time
Children usually get symptoms like:
In older children and adults, symptoms usually aren't serious. However, in babies, symptoms can be severe:
There's is no vaccine to prevent RSV. People with young children should wash their hands a lot to keep from passing on the virus.
Rarely, doctors give monthly shots of a medicine (palivizumab) that can make RSV infection less severe. They use this medicine only in children who are most likely to have serious breathing problems from RSV (for example, young children who have serious heart or lung disease or those who were born very premature).