Respiratory Syncytial Virus
What Is It?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is one of the many viruses that cause the common cold and infections in the upper parts of the respiratory tract. RSV also can cause infection in the lower respiratory tract, such as pneumonia in the lung tissue and bronchiolitis inside the smallest airways (bronchioles) in the lungs.
RSV is spread in secretions when someone with it coughs or sneezes. RSV also can be carried on unwashed hands and on contaminated objects, such as dirty tissues, doorknobs and desk tops. It typically enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth when someone with contaminated fingers touches his or her face or eyes or breathes in droplets.
People who have the greatest risk of serious illness from RSV include: