RSV Virus


RSV in infants

What are the signs an RSV infection?

RSV infections can appear as a very mild illness, but it can also lead to serious respiratory tract infections, especially pneumonia.  This is more likely to happen to infants and older people, as well as those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms can last from  a few days to weeks.

In children, the symptoms are usually mild and very similar to the common cold. Symptoms are typically stuffy nose, fever, cough, perhaps an ear infection.

In an infant, an RSV infection can be more dangerous and serious. The infant may require hospitalization in order for the baby to be monitored closely.

If have a child at home with an RSV infection, make the child comfortable and give the child plenty of fluids throughout the day. If the child doesn’t want to drink much, try giving small sips of fluids often.

You may find that a humidifier helps your child to breath easier, but make sure to clean it often as they can be a source for mold.

If fever occurs, treat it by a low dosage of acetaminophen, as per recommendations from a physician. Do NOT use Aspirin, because that could lead to a condition called Reye syndrome, which is a life-threatening illness.

What complications can result from RSV infection?

A person with a first RSV infection can develop severe breathing problems that need to be managed in the hospital. RSV infections in premature babies less than 6 months old and in infants with chronic lung, heart, or immune problems are most likely to be severe and lead to death.

When to call the doctor

Call the doctor if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • high fever and feeling sick
  • severe dehydration
  • thick nasal mucus
  • a cough that produces yellow or green mucus
  • a cough that keeps getting worse

How common is RSV in infants?

In the United States, about 50% of infants and young children become infected with RSV each winter season. Approximately 90,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths per year in children under age 5 years are attributed to RSV.