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What parents need to know about RSV

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a highly contagious virus that can lead to respiratory infection in babies, including serious lung infections. However, most of the time RSV will cause a mild, cold-like illness. RSV spreads when droplets from a cough, sneeze, or infected surface get inside the eyes, nose, or mouth.

It’s seasonal

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The typical RSV season usually occurs from fall through spring, but can vary by local area.

It’s common

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2 out of 3 babies will get RSV by age 1.

It’s unpredictable

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RSV can go from cold-like symptoms to hospitalization in less than a week.

It’s serious

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Babies are 16x more likely to be hospitalized with RSV lung infection than with the flu.

It's concerning

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Although severe RSV is rare, RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization in babies under age 1.

It’s persistent

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On average, babies hospitalized with RSV stay for 3-4 days in hospital.
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What symptoms to look for

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RSV signs and symptoms

Most of the time RSV will cause a mild, cold-like illness. Initial symptoms of RSV can include:
  • congestion
  • runny nose
  • irritability
  • decreased appetite
  • fever
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When to call a doctor

As the infection spreads to the lungs the symptoms can worsen and can also cause severe illness such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia. Symptoms can include:
  • short, shallow, and abnormally fast breathing
  • a wheezing cough
  • nasal flaring
  • poor feeding
  • unusual tiredness
  • developing a blue tint to their lips or fingernails
  • fever

The real life impact of RSV

“I could never imagine I’d be watching my 3 week old in the back of an ambulance being sent to the children’s hospital”
“I hope that learning how RSV affected my family will help another family avoid what we went through."

How you can take action today

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Additional questions you may have about RSV