What is RSV?

RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. It’s a very common virus that can be easily passed from person to person.1,2

In babies, RSV generally causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms. But in babies with certain risk factors, it can cause serious lung infections that need to be treated at a hospital.3,4

When Is RSV Season?

RSV outbreaks can happen any time of year. They usually happen during colder, wintry months, rainy season, and last for an average of 5 months. Since RSV seasons can vary by region, it’s always best to ask your doctor to know when it occurs in your area.5,6

North of the equator

RSV season begins sometime between September and December.5,6

Near the equator

RSV occurs year-round with some increase in the rainy season.5,6
South of the equator

RSV season begins sometime between March and June.5,6

How Does RSV Spread?

RSV is spread easily through sneezing, coughing, or by touching something that might have the virus on it.1
Person-to-person contact: como por ejemplo al besar o compartir vasos o utensilios para comerPerson-to-person contact, such as kissing or sharing cups/eating utensils.
Unwashed hands: RSV can survive 30 minutes or more on unwashed hands.
Objects or surfaces: RSV can survive up to 6 hours on surfaces such as toys, keyboards, or doorknobs.

What Are The Symptoms Of An RSV Infection?

At first, symptoms of an RSV infection may resemble those of a cold and may include3,4:
  • Low-grade fever
  • Runny nose
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Mild headache
Most children do not experience serious RSV infections. But in those who do, the RSV infection can spread to the lungs, causing pneumonia or bronchiolitis. These symptoms can include fever, shallow or rapid breathing, coughing, wheezing, decrease in appetite, and a blue colour to the skin.3,4:

If your baby is showing more serious symptoms or is considered to be at high risk for serious complications from an RSV infection, talk to your doctor.3,4:

When Should You Call A Doctor?

While not common, these symptoms may worsen and could indicate a serious RSV infection 2,4:
Short, shallow, rapid breathing, or difficulty breathing: chest muscles and skin pull inward with each breath
Wheezing: you can hear a high-pitched noise when baby is breathing out.


Decrease in appetite
Irritability or unusual tiredness: bluish colour to the skin

How Are RSV Infections Treated?

There is no cure for RSV. Antibiotics are only helpful for infections caused by bacteria, not viruses. However, your doctor can recommend ways to make your baby more comfortable and can let you know what signs to watch for that may mean the infection is becoming more serious and may require hospital care.2,7-9
Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent RSV, but there are medicines that might help if your child is at risk for serious RSV infections.7

CC-12150 / MAY 2026

1. Jones A. RSV: when it’s more than just a cold. HealthyChildren.org. Updated November 4, 2019. Accessed June 22, 2020. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/RSV-When-Its-More-Than-Just-a-Cold.aspx.
2. Piedimonte G, Perez MK. Respiratory syncytial virus infection and bronquiolitis. Pediatr Rev. 2014;35(12):519-530. doi:10.1542/pir.35-12-519.
3. Goldstein M, Phillips R, DeVincenzo JP, et al. National Perinatal Association 2018 Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Prevention Clinical Practice Guideline: an evidence-based interdisciplinary collaboration. Neonatology Today. 2017;12:1-27.
4. Mayo Clinic. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): symptoms & causes. July 22, 2017. Accessed June 24, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/respiratory-syncytial-virus/symptoms-causes/syc-20353098.
5. Li Y, Reeves RM, Wang X, et al. Global patterns in monthly activity of influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza virus, and metapneumovirus: a systematic analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2019;7(8):e1031-e1045. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(19)30264-5.
6. Obando-Pacheco P, Justicia-Grande AJ, Rivero-Calle I, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus seasonality: a global overview. J Infect Dis. 2018;217(9):1356-1364. doi:10.1093/infdis/jiy056.
7. Resch B. Product review on the monoclonal antibody palivizumab for prevention of respiratory syncytial virus infection. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2017;13(9):2138-2149. doi:10.1080/21645515.2017.1337614.
8. Mayo Clinic. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): diagnosis & treatment. July 22, 2017. Accessed June 24, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/respiratory-syncytial-virus/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353104.
9. Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV): symptoms and care. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated June 26, 2018. Accessed December 4, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/prevention.html

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