RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

What is it and how is it spread? 

RSV, or respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, is a common virus that infects the lungs and airways. Most cases are mild and result in flu-like symptoms that last from 3-8 days, but severe cases can lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis that can require hospitalization.

RSV is spread via droplets, and the virus is hardy enough to survive on hard surfaces for hours at a time.

RSV circulates seasonally like the flu—most often, infections pick up in the fall and peak in the winter, but the timing and seriousness can vary from year to year.

Who's at Risk? 

Complications from RSV can happen to people in any age group, but those the most at risk are young infants, immunocompromised individuals, individuals with lung or heart disease, and adults over the age of 65.

Most kids will get RSV at least once before their 2nd birthday, but unfortunately, we do not develop long-lasting immunity.

RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization in infants in the USA. Among adults and children, RSV causes an estimated 58,000 hospitalizations each year, with 100-500 deaths among children younger than 5 years old and 177,000 hospitalizations with 14,000 deaths among adults 65 or older. 

RSV Vaccine

Currently, there are no RSV vaccines available to the public. However, there are several RSV vaccines that are in development and two vaccines that are seeking licensure from the FDA. Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have submitted applications to the FDA for vaccines for older adults. The decision is expected sometime in May of 2023. These vaccines could be crucial in protecting older adults, who are at high risk, in next year’s RSV season.


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