Human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) is an enveloped, single-stranded RNA virus and a member of the family Paramyxoviridae.


With an attack rate approaching 100% among susceptible individuals, HRSV is a major respiratory pathogen among young children (particularly those 2–3 months of age) and the foremost cause of lower respiratory disease among infants.

HRSV accounts for 20–25% of hospital admissions of young children for pneumonia and for up to 75% of cases of bronchiolitis in this age group.

The virus is transmitted efficiently via contact with contaminated fingers or fomites and by spread of coarse aerosols. Infection rates are typically higher during the cold winter months.

The incubation period is 4–6 days.


Respiratory syncytial virus enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. It spreads easily through the air on infected respiratory droplets. You or your child can become infected if someone with RSV coughs or sneezes near you. The virus also passes to others through direct contact, such as shaking hands.

The virus can live for hours on hard objects such as countertops, crib rails and toys. Touch your mouth, nose or eyes after touching a contaminated object and you’re likely to pick up the virus.

An infected person is most contagious during the first week or so after infection. But in infants and those with weakened immunity, the virus may continue to spread even after symptoms go away, for up to four weeks.

Risk factors

By age 2, most children will have been infected with respiratory syncytial virus, but they can get infected by RSV more than once. Children who attend child care centers or who have siblings who attend school are at a higher risk of exposure and reinfection. RSV season — when outbreaks tend to occur — is the fall to the end of spring.

People at increased risk of severe or sometimes life-threatening RSV infections include:

  • Infants, especially premature infants or babies who are 6 months or younger
  • Children who have heart disease that’s present from birth (congenital heart disease) or chronic lung disease
  • Children or adults with weakened immune systems from diseases such as cancer or treatment such as chemotherapy
  • Children who have neuromuscular disorders, such as muscular dystrophy
  • Adults with heart disease or lung disease
  • Older adults, especially those age 65 and older

Clinical Manifestations

Congested or runny nose

Sore throat




Severe cough


Infants typically develop rhinorrhea, low-grade fever, cough, and wheezing; 20–40% of infections result in lower tract disease, including pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and tracheobronchitis.

In adults, HRSV typically presents as the common cold, but it can cause lower respiratory tract disease with fever, including severe pneumonia in elderly or immunosuppressed pts. HRSV pneumonia has a case-fatality rate of 20–80% among transplant patient.


  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands aren’t clean.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid large events and mass gatherings.
  • Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you’re sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you often touch on a daily basis.
  • Stay home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick, unless you’re going to get medical care. Avoid taking public transportation if you’re sick.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
  • Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.

Diagnosis -Nasopharyngeal swab ,ELISA, or RT-PCR.


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