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September 2023

Protect Your Little One from RSV

From colds to seasonal flu, parents are always fighting to keep their little ones healthy. But one sickness tends to slip under the radar: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This virus infects almost every child at least once before age 2.

RSV symptoms—including congestion, runny nose, fever, sore throat, and cough—are much like a typical cold. And even though most kids recover within a week or two, some get very sick. RSV can lead to pneumonia and bronchiolitis (inflammation of airways in the lungs). In fact, RSV is the primary cause of hospitalization in all infants.

Protect your children by reducing their exposure to the virus and knowing when it’s time to call your child’s healthcare provider.

Prevent RSV

Good prevention habits are important for everyone. After all, adults and older children can get RSV, too. Their symptoms are usually mild, but they can give it to infants—who are at higher risk of having a severe infection.  

Just like the influenza virus, RSV easily spreads through direct physical contact. It can also spread through coughing and sneezing, or by touching infected objects such as toys, cups, and countertops.

To protect your child:

  • Wash your hands often. Ask others to do the same, especially before holding your baby.

  • Avoid sharing cups, bottles, or toys that may be contaminated.

  • Limit how much time your infant spends around large crowds during the fall and winter.

  • Guard your baby from secondhand smoke, which increases their risk of developing a more serious case of RSV.

  • Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about new medicines to help prevent RSV. They are available to all babies younger than 8 months entering their first RSV season and some older babies 8 months - 19 months entering their 2nd RSV season who are at high risk of severe RSV.

Recognize the signs

If you notice your little one has any of these symptoms, call your child’s healthcare provider right away:

  • Trouble breathing, such as taking 60 breaths or more per minute

  • Decreased appetite or activity levels

  • Cold symptoms that keep getting worse

  • Consistent shallow cough

  • Gray or bluish color on the lips, tongue, or skin

They will work closely with you to plan next steps and get your child back to feeling their best.




Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley BSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rina Lazenbik, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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