Respiratory Syncytial Virus Explained

Everybody knows what the common cold and influenza are, but we’d guess not many have heard of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). So, what it is? Well it is a very common virus that leads to mild, cold like symptoms in adults and older healthy children. The symptoms most commonly appear about four to six days after exposure to the virus and include a congested or runny nose, dry cough, low-grade fever, sore throat and mild headache. However, it can be much more serious for babies and those in high risk groups such as the elderly. The symptoms for those high-risk groups can include fever, severe cough, wheezing, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing and a bluish colour of the skin due to a lack of oxygen.

How RSV Effects Infants

RSV is also the most common germ that causes lung and airways infections in infants and young children. Most infants have had this infection by two years old. It is also the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under one year of age. It is highly contagious and can spread through schools and childcare centres quickly. Babies often get it when older children carry the virus home from school and pass it to them. Most children and adults recover in 1-2 weeks, although some might have repeated wheezing. Severe or life- threatening infection requiring a hospital stay may occur in premature babies or infants and adults who have chronic heart or lung problems.

How You Can Help

Unfortunately, around 30 babies die each year in the UK from RSV, and there is currently no specific treatment for RSV infection. This is why we are conducting a lot of studies on the virus this year to find out more about it. If you would like to help us with our research, or would just like to know more about what we do, or to sign up, click here!

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