By age 2, most children will have been infected with respiratory syncytial virus. Children who attend child care centers or who have siblings who attend school are at a higher risk of exposure. So are infants who are exposed to high levels of air pollution or cigarette smoke. Susceptibility is also greater during the peak RSV season, which typically begins in the fall and ends in the spring.
People at increased risk of severe — sometimes life-threatening — infections include:
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- Infants younger than 6 months of age
- Younger children, especially under 1 year of age, who were born prematurely or who have an underlying condition, such as congenital heart or lung disease
- Children with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or transplantation
- Older adults
- Adults with asthma, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- People with immunodeficiency, including those with certain transplanted organs, leukemia or HIV/AIDS
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Pickering LK, et al. Red Book Online. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009. http://aapredbook.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1/3.110. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Barr FE, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus infection: Clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Peters TR, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Long SS, et al. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/143546809-2/0/1679/229.html?tocnode=55244158&fromURL=229.html#4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06687-0..50228-9_4167. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV): Infection and incidence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/infection.html. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed June 22, 2011.
- Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV): Transmission and prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/transmission.html. Accessed June 22, 2011.
- Perez-Yarza EG, et al. The association between respiratory syncytial virus infection and the development of childhood asthma: A systematic review of the literature. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 2007;26:733.
- Barr FE, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus infection: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Ventre K, et al. Ribavirin for respiratory syncytial virus infection of the lower respiratory tract in infants and young children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007:CD000181.
- Barr FE, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus infection: Prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 21, 2011.