Less well known than the flu or COVID-19, RSV is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract infections in young children worldwide.It also affects older adults or adults with underlying health conditions.
RSV is a type of virus that, like the flu, spreads mostly in seasonal outbreaks and affects your lungs and breathing passages, with similar symptoms to a cold. There are two different types of RSV, and you can be infected more than once.
It’s very contagious, spreading through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through direct contact, like kissing.People who don’t have symptoms can still spread it, and the virus can persist on surfaces like countertops, toys and doorknobs.It spreads especially quickly in schools, childcare centres and care homes.
Mild symptoms usually appear a few days after infection, though healthy adults may not have any. However, some adults are at risk of severe and sometimes life-threatening infections, including older adults, those with asthma, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and people with immunodeficiency.
RSV symptoms are similar to the type you would typically get with a common cold:
RSV is extremely common – in fact, by the time you reach your second birthday you’ve almost definitely had it at least once. It usually appears in specific ‘seasons’ – between autumn and spring, or in the rainy season.
Sadly, as infections are so common, RSV causes many deaths every year, especially in babies – it’s the second main cause of death in infancy worldwide. Almost all of these deaths are in developing countries.
Babies born around the start of the RSV season are more at risk of severe disease.Younger children (especially those under 6 months old, or with underlying conditions like heart or lung disease) are also at high risk.
In healthy elderly adults, RSV infections can occur in about 3-7% but up to 10% in high-risk adults.Elderly people (those over 65) and anyone with a weak immune system are considered to be at a higher risk.
There is no vaccine that can help prevent RSV infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified this as an important priority, and we now know more than ever about how the virus works.
A drug called palivizumab, a monclonal antibody therapy, is available in some countries for the prevention of severe RSV disease in certain infants and children who are at high risk for.
The list below includes example questions to help start a conversation with your health care provider. There may be other relevant questions based on your symptoms, stage, and medical history that are not listed here.
We know that there is a great unmet need when it comes to RSV, with no vaccine or specific treatment available yet. That’s why we are combining our passion with innovation to pursue multiple avenues from prevention to treatment, to reduce the serious harm caused by RSV infections.
With all the advances scientists have made in recent years, we hope that RSV will soon become a treatable disease.