What is RSV and How Can I Protect My Child from It?

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What is RSV and How Can I Protect My Child from It?

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common virus that can cause severe respiratory illness in young children. It is the leading cause of hospitalization for infants in the United States and can be deadly. In this article, we will discuss RSV and how you can protect your child from it!


What is RSV?

RSV is a very common virus that affects the respiratory system, or the organs involved in breathing. It is most commonly transmitted through contact with saliva or mucus from someone who is infected, though it can also be transmitted through tiny droplets created when an infected person coughs or sneezes. RSV is a virus that can cause respiratory infections in people of all ages. RSV illness happens more often in the winter and early spring. It’s so common that almost all children have had the virus by age 2.



The symptoms start about 2 to 5 days after contact with the virus. They often start mild, like a cold. They can lead to coughing and wheezing. Symptoms of RSV include coughing, runny nose, low-grade fever, and difficulty breathing or wheezing. If your child has these symptoms, it's important to seek medical care as soon as possible to reduce the risk of complications.


  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Fever 
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Fast breathing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Flaring of nostrils or straining of the chest or stomach while breathing
  • Turning blue around the lips and fingertips 
  • Trouble eating, drinking, or swallowing


Protect Your Child Against RSV

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to protect against RSV. The best way to keep your child healthy and free of this virus is by practicing good hygiene habits at all times. Make sure your child does not have close contact with sick people.

Be sure to wash your hands frequently, especially after coming into contact with someone who may be sick, and teach your children to do the same. Also avoid touching your eyes and mouth as much as possible, since these are entryways for germs that can cause RSV.


You can also help protect your child from this virus by ensuring that he or she receives all of their routine vaccinations as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These vaccines are designed to protect against some of the most common respiratory illnesses, including flu and pneumococcal disease, which can increase the risk for an RSV infection. Additionally, you may want to consider having your child wear a mask. You can purchase these inexpensively online) whenever he or she is around other children who may be sick with RSV. This will help reduce exposure to germs that cause respiratory illness.



If you suspect that your child has developed an RSV infection, contact his or her doctor right away. The doctor may recommend antiviral medications or other treatments to help relieve symptoms and prevent further complications. Most children will make a full recovery within one to two weeks, but severe cases can result in hospitalization and even death, so it is important to seek medical attention right away if you are concerned that your child may be sick with RSV.


If you would like more information on how to protect your family against RSV, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or talk to your child's healthcare provider. If your child's symptoms are not improving, bring them to the Spring + Heights emergency department for care.