Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection

  • Medical Author:
    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.

  • Medical Editor: Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    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.

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Is there an RSV vaccine?

Unfortunately, there is no RSV vaccine yet, although development of one is a high research priority.

Effective immunity against RSV requires a continuous solid level of antibodies against the virus. There is particular concern for RSV in premature babies because of their lack of maturity and lack of protective antibodies. There is a similar concern about RSV in people of all ages with immunodeficiency. Most people's immune system loses its protective capability a few months following exposure to RSV. This enables individuals to experience repeated episodes of illness during each RSV season.

What is the prognosis of an RSV infection?

Most babies and toddlers tolerate an RSV infection well. Unless they require supplemental oxygen or are at risk for dehydration, they can receive any necessary respiratory support from their parents in their home. Children commonly respond to inhaled bronchodilators to help control wheezing. The development of portable nebulizers has made such therapy available for home use. Unfortunately, no current vaccination is available to prevent RSV infection. Hopefully, current research in this area will soon be successful.

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease

REFERENCE:

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV)." Mar. 31, 2010. <http://www.cdc.gov/rsv>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2015

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