Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an infection of the lungs, throat and nose that is spread through contact. The virus that causes RSV can live from 30 minutes to several hours on most surfaces, making it very contagious. RSV is the most common cause of respiratory tract infections in children under the age of 3 and is the number one cause of bronchitis and pneumonia in infants. Most cases of RSV appear to be simply a bad cold. But, in some children, RSV becomes very serious.
A child with RSV will at first seem as if they have a common cold. Within a few days however, respiratory symptoms begin; wheezing, coughing, fever, runny nose, irritability, and laboured breathing. RSV can be confirmed by a testing the nasal secretions. In a mild case of RSV, a doctor will give cough and cold medications to ease the symptoms of chest congestion. Symptoms usually disappear in a week.
More severe cases of RSV require hospitalisation where breathing treatments and oxygen can be administered.