RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

RSV is a common respiratory virus that often results in mild, cold-like symptoms but can lead to serious illness. RSV infects the nose, throat, lungs, and breathing passages and is spread through contact with an infected person or by touching contaminated surfaces and your eyes, nose, or mouth. RSV typically circulates with other seasonal respiratory viruses, and it can be hard to tell the difference between RSV, COVID-19, and flu.

RSV can affect people of all ages, and certain groups are at greater risk for RSV-related complications like premature infants, infants age 6 months and younger, chronic heart or lung disease, compromised immune systems, and older adults (65+).

Most people infected are contagious for 3 to 8 days with mild symptoms, which may include:

  • Coughing

  • Sneezing

  • Runny nose

  • Fever

No vaccine to prevent RSV, but there are actions you can take now to help prevent RSV:

  • Wash your hands often—for at least 20 seconds using soap and water

  • Clean frequently touched surfaces

  • Avoid close contact with others who may be sick and stay home when you are sick

  • Cover coughs and sneezes

Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases, December 18, 2020; National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, February 2022.