The flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are all highly contagious respiratory infections caused by viruses: The flu by influenza virus, COVID-19 by SARS-CoV-2 virus, and RSV by respiratory syncytial virus. It is possible for a person to be infected with multiple viruses at the same time.
RSV is spread through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of infected people when they cough and sneeze. RSV can also spread through dried respiratory secretions on bedclothes and similar items. RSV can remain on hard surfaces for several hours and on skin for shorter amounts of time.
Initial signs of RSV are similar to mild cold symptoms, including congestion, runny nose, fever, cough and sore throat. Very young infants may be irritable, fatigued and have breathing difficulties. Normally these symptoms will clear up on their own in a few days.
RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a seasonal illness that has been commonly overlooked even though it affects about 97% of children by the age of two. This is because the symptoms are similar to that of the common cold and are normally mild. But for some, RSV can be severe and even life threatening.
People infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days. However, some infants, and people with weakened immune systems, can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as 4 weeks.
Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-ul) virus can also infect adults. In adults and older, healthy children, RSV symptoms are mild and typically mimic the common cold. Self-care measures are usually all that's needed to relieve any discomfort.
So far, the new coronavirus appears to be more dangerous for adults, especially older ones. RSV is riskier for young children, but it can also be serious for older people and those who have other health problems.
Young children, especially those younger than 2, are at a greater risk of complications if they get both at once. Since RSV and COVID share similar symptoms, the easiest way to be certain what's causing a cough or fever is to ask your Three Rivers Health pediatrician to test your child for both viruses.
Jan 9, 2021
Most RSV infections go away on their own in a week or two. There is no specific treatment for RSV infection, though researchers are working to develop vaccines and antivirals (medicines that fight viruses).
Vitamin D provides a novel treatment option that may reduce lung inflammation and disease severity in RSV infection.
There is no specific treatment for respiratory syncytial virus. In mild to moderate infections, home care is usually all that is needed. Home remedies to help relieve symptoms of RSV include drinking plenty of fluids, using a humidifier, saline nasal drops, rest, and over-the-counter pain relievers.
The clinical features of RSV infection may be difficult to distinguish from those of influenza but include nasal congestion, cough, wheezing and low-grade fever. Older persons with underlying heart and lung disease and immunocompromised patients are at highest risk for RSV infection-related pneumonia and death.
There are currently two drugs approved for RSV disease: palivizumab and ribavirin. Palivizumab binds with the protein present in the virus, forming a shield. As a result, they fail to infect human cells. On the other hand, ribavirin, an antiviral agent, prevents the multiplication of the virus.
Older adults who get very sick from RSV may need to be hospitalized. Some may even die. Older adults are at greater risk than young adults for serious complications from RSV because our immune systems weaken when we are older. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Older adults are at greater risk than young adults for serious complications from RSV because our immune systems weakens when we are older. There is no vaccine to prevent RSV infection yet, but scientists are working hard to develop one. If you are concerned about your risk for RSV, talk to your doctor.
Palivizumab, the sole licensed RSV monoclonal, is indicated only for premature and other high-risk infants and must be administered monthly during the RSV season, which typically runs from around November through April.
Disinfect contaminated and commonly used surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes. Both Lysol® Disinfectant Spray and Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes kill the Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
Currently, there is no cure for RSV. However, scientists continue to learn about the virus and look for ways to prevent the infection or better manage severe illness.