RSV is a common respiratory infection which mostly affects young children but can also occur in adults. Although RSV symptoms are usually mild, some children and adults can get very sick and need hospital treatment. There is currently no vaccine for RSV approved for use in Australia.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a virus that causes respiratory infections. It mostly affects young children but can also occur in adults. Infections are usually highest in late autumn or winter in NSW.
For most people, RSV infection causes a mild respiratory illness. Symptoms usually begin around 2 to 8 days after exposure to the virus.
Symptoms can include:
Babies under one year of age are more likely to develop breathing problems such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia. They can be unsettled and have difficulty feeding.
RSV is highly infectious. It can be spread through:
A person is usually infectious while they have symptoms.
RSV can affect anyone and usually causes a mild infection. Babies are at higher risk of severe illness and may need admission to hospital to help their breathing and hydration, especially if they have lung, heart or immune problems or were born prematurely.
Children with viral wheeze or asthma may have symptoms triggered by RSV. Older adults, especially those with chronic heart or lung disease or weakened immune systems may also become unwell with RSV.
There are currently no vaccines available for RSV in Australia.
The best way to help stop the virus spreading is for everyone to maintain good hygiene, especially if you have respiratory symptoms. If you have RSV and have symptoms, you should:
The virus can survive on surfaces or objects for several hours. It is therefore important to:
Parents and carers can also take steps to help prevent RSV, such as:
RSV can be identified by a nose or throat swab (PCR test). Some doctors can diagnose RSV based on signs and symptoms.
Most people's immune system will fight off the infection. RSV infections are usually mild and can be managed with:
Continue to take any medications you have been prescribed as usual. If you are unsure about your current medication or treatment, or have any concerns about your health, call your doctor.Some people may need to be hospitalised for treatment if their symptoms are severe.
RSV can cause a chest infection called bronchiolitis. Babies and children with bronchiolitis can usually be managed at home. Visit the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website for bronchiolitis information.
Call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for free 24-hour health advice or make an appointment for your child to see a doctor if:
Call Triple Zero (000) or go to your local emergency department if your child:
RSV must be notified by laboratories in NSW. Trends in RSV notification are reported in the NSW respiratory surveillance reports, along with surveillance data on young children with bronchiolitis presenting to emergency departments.
For further information speak to your doctor or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for free 24-hour health advice.