National RSV Awareness Month is Observed in October

Oct 2, 2020, 17:13 PM by Dr. Sara S. Ali



Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children. It affects the nose, throat and lungs. It is usually like a cold, but some children can get very sick from RSV. It can lead to bronchiolitis (inflammation of the airways) and pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs), making it very hard for them to breathe.

RSV illness typically occurs in the late fall through early spring months. Symptoms generally last 5-7 days.

What signs and symptoms can my baby develop?

  • Fever (temperature of 100.4 or higher)
  • Cough
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Fussiness or poor feeding
  • Fast breathing or flaring of the nostrils
  • Belly breathing, tugging between their ribs or at the lower neck.

Is RSV contagious?  YES!   

RSV is highly contagious. It spreads through contact with infected droplets if someone coughs or sneezes.  It can spread easily through schools and day care centers. Almost all kids are infected with RSV at least once by the time they are 2 years old.

How should I take care of my baby?


  1. Wash hands well especially after being around someone who might have cold symptoms
  2. Vaccinate. Make sure to get the annual flu shot for the entire family.
  3. Clean surfaces and disinfect objects at home regularly.
  4. Avoid large crowds during the cold and flu season.

Home care:

  1. Fluids. Baby may not feel like drinking, so give fluids in small amounts frequently.
  2. Allow time for recovery.
  3. Use bulb syringe to remove nasal fluid if baby is too young to blow his or her nose.
  4. Nasal saline to allow easier breathing.
  5. Treat fever using acetaminophen. Avoid using aspirin and cough or cold medications.

Some children may need to go to the hospital. They may need extra oxygen or intravenous line for fluids.

When should I take my baby to the hospital?

  • If symptoms do not resolve in 7 days.
  • High fever and baby doesn’t look well
  • Decreased activity
  • Symptoms of dehydration (less than 1 wet diaper every 8 hours)
  • Difficulty or pauses in breathing

Sara S. Ali, M.D.
Resident (Intern), Dept. of Pediatrics

Reviewed by Dr. Diana Nguyen, Associate Professor
Dept. of Pediatrics


by Meghan White —MD Candidate |UTMB 2021

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract infection in children under one years old. This virus is most common from October to March, and is spread by contact with respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. Almost every child will be infected with RSV by the time they reach 2 years old. It most commonly presents with mild, cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, cough, and fever. It typically resolves on its own within 1 week. RSV infection can also present with more severe symptoms such as wheezing or difficulty breathing because of pneumonia or bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways of the lungs).  Children are sometimes hospitalized in more severe cases.

Sources: RSV 

Also see:
UTMB Health Infectious Disease
UTMB Health Primary Care Pediatrics