Respiratory Syncytial Virus (cont.)
John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
In this Article
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection facts
- What is the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?
- When does RSV infection occur, and who gets it?
- Who is at risk for severe disease?
- Is RSV infection contagious, and how is RSV infection transmitted?
- What are the symptoms of RSV infection?
- How is RSV infection diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for an RSV infection?
- How can RSV infection be prevented?
- Is there an RSV vaccine?
- What is the prognosis of a respiratory syncytial virus infection?
- Find a local Pediatrician in your town
What are the symptoms of RSV infection?
The symptoms in most infants are similar to those of a bad cold. These include fever, prominent runny nose, and nasal congestion. The duration of these symptoms is one to two weeks. During their first RSV infection, between 25%-40% of babies and young children also have signs and symptoms of bronchiolitis or pneumonia. Bronchiolitis is a clinical state of infants (by definition) during which inflammation of the terminal airways restricts airflow and may produce wheezing. The majority of children hospitalized for RSV infection are under 6 months of age. The need for supplemental oxygen, IV fluids, and pulmonary inhalation therapy are the most common indicators for hospitalization. If wheezing causes an infant's respiratory rate to increase substantially, they may have a difficult time taking in adequate fluids and become dehydrated.
Following childhood, RSV may cause repeated infections with moderate-to-severe cold-like symptoms although severe lower respiratory tract disease (pneumonia and/or wheezing) may occur with RSV at any age.
How is RSV infection diagnosed?
The diagnosis of RSV infection can be made by a number of different laboratory tests, including isolation of the virus, detection of viral antigens, detection of viral RNA, demonstration of a rise in serum antibodies, or a combination of these approaches. Most clinical laboratories today use nasal swab tests based on antigen detection to diagnose RSV infection. This technique is 80%-90% reliable. A newer test protocol (RT-PCR) is more reliable and is replacing the antigen-detecting test in many hospitals and community laboratories.
Viewers share their comments
- Submit »
- Submit »
Find out what women really need.