RSV: Symptoms, treatments & vaccines

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a very common respiratory virus, particularly among children. Indeed, “by age 2, 90% of people have had at least one infection” with RSV, he said. dr. Octavio Ramillo (opens in new tab), chief of infectious diseases at National Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who studies RSV. But people can catch the virus at any age, and become infected multiple times.

In healthy children and adults, the virus typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms; but it can cause more serious disease in infants younger than 12 months old, or adults over age 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (opens in new tab) (CDC). In these more serious cases, the virus spreads from the upper respiratory tract to the lungs, potentially leading to pneumoniaeinflammation of the lungs‘ air sacs (alveoli), or bronchiolitis, inflammation of the lungs’ small airway passages.

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