Health A-Z

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Clinical Definition

Respiratory syncytial virus is an infection caused by the virus from the Pneumovirus genus. Although healthy adults can become infected, it usually results in a mild respiratory infection. In young children, it tends to cause inflammation of the bronchioles. In some cases, it may also lead to bronchopneumonia and respiratory failure. The infection is contagious and spread through respiratory droplets.

In Our Own Words

Respiratory syncytial virus is a contagious illness. People of any age can get the illness, but young children and the elderly are most at risk. It’s the most common cause of lower respiratory tract infection in children under a year old, and it can make breathing difficult. Complications from RSV include pneumonia, which can also become life threatening. The infection is easily spread from person to person through breathing in droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
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