Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV is a common respiratory virus that typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms. The majority of people who catch RSV will recover within a week or two but for medically vulnerable, older adults and young babies, it can be a serious illness. RSV can cause bronchiolitis which is the inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia which is an infection of the lungs.
Premature, newborn and babies under 12 months, and older adults, particularly those with chronic health conditions who would be classes as medically vulnerable. All other children and adults can also catch RSV but it is unlikely to advance to serious illness.
For newborn or babies under 12 months, check with visitors to ensure they are well with no symptoms of cold or cough. Ensure all visitors wash their hands before holding your baby. It is perfectly acceptable to ask visitors to wear a mask and sanitise their hands around your baby or young child.
“Many children might have a runny nose or a slight cough in winter season and they should not be stopped from attending if well with one mild symptom. However, if a child is feeling unwell with more significant symptoms, or combination of symptoms (cough, runny nose and mild fever) then they should be at home until the fever and their symptoms have gone. Children may have a persistent cough after infection for a few weeks; once the fever and any other symptoms have finished, they should not be excluded because of this persistent cough alone”. (National Child Health Public Health Programme, Health Service Executive, 2022).
Most children and adults recover in one to two weeks, although some might have repeated wheezing. Severe or life-threatening infection requiring a hospital stay may occur in premature infants or in anyone who has chronic heart or lung problems. If your child or family member has any severe symptoms seek medical attention immediately.