When leaves change color and the temperature drops, it means pumpkin spice and flannel shirts for many. But for some, it could mean the worry of seasonal viruses. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild illness, but can be severe for very young children, older adults, and people with medical conditions.
RSV is a common respiratory illness caused by a virus. It spreads through contact with droplets from the infected person’s nose or throat when they cough or sneeze. Or through direct contact, like kissing. The virus can live on hard surfaces and skin for several hours. Like other respiratory viruses, RSV is most common in the fall and winter.
Anyone can be infected with RSV, however, there are certain individuals who are at more risk of developing serious illness and complications.
RSV symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, making it difficult to tell them apart. Typical symptoms of RSV are:
In some cases, RSV infection can develop into pneumonia, especially in those who are very young, older adults, or who have weakened immune systems.
Symptoms normally start four to six days after being exposed and can last several days. Coughing may continue for a few days to several weeks.
People are normally contagious for ten days after the first sign of symptoms.
It is always a good idea to consult your doctor if you are feeling ill and if your symptoms progress.
Like any virus, steps can be taken to help prevent RSV.
Since RSV is a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Instead, you can take steps to relieve your symptoms:
Always reach out to your doctor for the right care path for you or your child.
Two RSV vaccines, Arexvy and Abrysvo, were approved in June 2023 for adults aged 60 years and older. Abrysvo was also approved for pregnant women between 32 through 36 weeks of pregnancy, and recommended seasonally, September through January. The CDC recommends these qualified individuals receive a single dose of the RSV vaccine after discussing with their doctor. The RSV vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines.
RSV may be common, but with the proper precautions you and your family can stay healthy this fall and winter season.
Keeping tabs on preventive care can help you stay healthy, avoid or delay getting sick, and catch problems early when treatment is likely to work best. Most CDPHP® health plans cover preventive care including many immunizations at no cost. Check your member contract or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) for details.
This is not medical advice. Please consult your doctor if you are ill.
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