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Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV)







Respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 in the U.S. -CDC


To view the RSV dashboard for the state of Nebraska

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Symptoms and Care


Runny Nose

Decrease in appetite





Symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once. Very young infants may only show irritability, decreased activity, and difficulty breathing. 

Almost all children will have had an RSV infection by their second birthday.  


Steps to relieve symptoms:

  • Manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reduction and pain relievers.
  • Drink enough fluids. It is important to hydrate to prevent dehydration.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before giving your child nonprescription cold medicines.

Preventing RSV

Take these steps to prevent the spread of RSV. 

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your shirt sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid close contact with others. (Kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and utensils)
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs and cell phones)
  • Receive the RSV vaccine. (Older adults and children are eligible) 
  • Stay home if you are sick. 


RSV spreads when

  • An infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • You get droplets from a cough or sneeze in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • You have direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV.
  • Touching surfaces that have the virus on them, then touching your face before washing your hands.

Individuals who are infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days after symptoms and may be contagious up to 48 hours prior to symptoms. 

RSV can survive for many hours on hard surfaces such as tables and cribs.

People at higher risk for RSV are:

  • Premature infants
  • Young children with heart defects or chronic lung disease
  • Children with neuromuscular disorders
  • Adults with compromised immune systems
  • Older adults, those with underlying heart or lung disease.



This vaccination is recommended for:

Adults 60 years old and over

Infants and young children