In most cases, RSV causes a mild cold with symptoms that may include nasal congestion, coughing, sore throat, headache, and a low-grade fever. However, RSV can become quite dangerous for very young children, people with compromised immune systems, and the elderly.
Parents may be shocked when their young child’s mild cold turns into a severe illness requiring a hospital stay. However, each year RSV is responsible for 2.1 million outpatient visits and 57,527 hospitalizations for children under 5 years old, according to the CDC.2 Infants are a particularly high-risk group for RSV infections. Up to 20% of infants with RSV require hospitalization, while 25% – 40% develop complications like bronchiolitis or pneumonia.3
The illness can also be dire for older adults. RSV leads to 177,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths annually among adults older than 65 years.2
This respiratory season, how can you tell if a respiratory infection is RSV, the flu, COVID-19, or another cold virus? And what can you do to prevent the spread of RSV?