Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Alternative Names

RSV; Palivizumab; Respiratory Syncytial Virus Immune Globulin

Definition of Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a very common virus that leads to mild, cold-like symptoms in adults and older healthy children. It can be more serious in young babies, especially to those in certain high-risk groups.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

RSV is the most common germ that causes lung and airway infections in infants and young children. Most infants have had this infection by age 2. Outbreaks of RSV infections most often begin in the fall and run into the spring.

Signs and tests

Rapid tests for this virus can be done on a fluid sample taken from the nose at many hospitals and clinics.

Treatment

Antibiotics do not treat RSV. Mild infections go away without treatment. Infants and children with a severe RSV infection may be admitted to the hospital so they can receive oxygen, humidified air, and fluids by IV.

Expectations (prognosis)

RSV infection can, in rare cases, cause death in infants. However, this is unlikely if the child is seen by a health care provider early in the course of the illness.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 1/29/2010

Bronchiolitis

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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