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Learn about RSV

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Learn about RSV

The fall and winter can bring the risk of respiratory illness. Though many have knowledge on how to prevent spreading the influenza (flu) virus, preventing respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is still a topic many are misinformed about. You may have heard parents with young kids asking you not to kiss their baby or have seen or heard the term RSV mentioned throughout the winter months, but here’s why preventing RSV, especially for infants, is so vital:

What is RSV?

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) causes illness of the nose, throat, and lungs and begins in late fall and can continue until early spring. Though most RSV infections will pass on their own, for some, there can be further complications and breathing issues, making prevention important, especially for those with babies.

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children under 1 year of age.

There is no treatment for RSV other than over-the-counter medication to manage symptoms. It is important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration.

How is it Spread?

RSV is spread when someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes. When droplets from the cough or sneeze make contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth; or if you touch a surface with the virus on it and then touch your face before washing your hands, you can become infected. It may also spread through direct contact, such as kissing a newborn or infant’s face.

RSV can live on the hands for up to 30 minutes but can survive for several hours on surfaces.


When RSV is present, symptoms can appear in stages, and for infants, the first sign might be irritability and breathing difficulties. The most common symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Decreased appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

RSV can lead to bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and infections of the lung. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the most common cause of these infections in children younger than a year old.

Who’s at a Higher Risk?

Those at higher risk for complications, such as severe illness and hospitalization from RSV include:

  • Premature infants
  • Those under six months of age
  • Children younger than two with chronic lung or heart disease
  • Children with weakened immune systems
  • Those with certain neuromuscular disorders
  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Adults with weakened immune system or chronic heart and lung disease

Prevention Tips

If you have a young infant less than six months of age, avoid large crowds or exposure to anyone who is sick. The best form of prevention is by disinfecting your home often, especially doorknobs or surfaces that your child or baby will touch. Wash your hands often, and be mindful of who is kissing your baby on the face. If you or your child is feeling under the weather, stay home.

More information

  • CDC—Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV):
  • Dr. Dowell, CCH's Infection Prevention Expert, talks about RSV and it's spread in Natrona County in this video

Though you can do your part in preventing the spread of germs, colds and other illnesses still happen. If your child is feeling under the weather and sneezing or fever or cold-like symptoms do occur, your health care provider or pediatrician in Gillette, Wyoming, is here to help. Visit to learn more information on pediatric services available with CCH.

  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Family Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, Campbell County Medical Group Pediatrics, Campbell County Medical Group Walk-In Clinic & Occupational Health, Campbell County Medical Group Wright Clinic & Occupational Health, Maternal Child, Patient Care, Wellness