What is RSV?


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a contagious virus that is usually mild, but can severely affect the lungs and respiratory airways in older adults

While you may not have heard of it yet, RSV is not a new virus and may be more of a health concern than you think—even if you’re healthy. And if you’re aged 60 or older, you can get RSV.

But don’t worry, by coming here you’ve taken a savvy first step toward learning about RSV so you can be informed. Let’s dive in.

What are the symptoms of RSV?

Image: Adult male sneezing

Symptoms of RSV can range from mild to severe and can last up to 2 weeks. RSV can cause severe symptoms in older adults.

RSV symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny Nose
  • Congestion
  • Headache
  • Tiredness

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that adults at highest risk for severe RSV infection include older adults, especially those 65 years of age and older, adults with chronic heart or lung disease, and adults with weakened immune systems.

How does RSV spread?

Similar to some other respiratory infections, a cough or sneeze can easily spread RSV. And while you’re typically contagious for 3-8 days, some people, especially those with weakened immune systems, can be contagious for as long as 4 weeks—even after they stop showing symptoms.

People can get RSV multiple times throughout their life. RSV can be serious for older adults.

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