RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

I thought this would be of use to parents.

(This page has information for the UK and USA)
RSV (which stands for respiratory syncytial virus) is one of the most common viruses in infants under two years of age. In healthy infants, this virus is no more serious than the common cold. Yet, there are certain infants in a high-risk group, mainly premature babies, babies with congenital heart problems, or babies with compromised lung function, in whom RSV can be a serious, even life-threatening, condition.

Who does is affect most?

It can be particularly serious in:

  • infants born prematurely,
  • children under the age of two suffering from chronic lung conditions, and
  • young children with hemodynamically significant CONGENITAL HEART…
  • Multiples are also at increased risk for serious RSV disease.

Virtually all children are exposed to the virus during the first two years of life and re-infection throughout life is very common.

Infants born at less than 36 weeks gestational age are at a significantly elevated risk for severe RSV disease.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, each year around 125,000 children are hospitalized in the United States with RSV disease. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia, and the number one reason for hospitalization of children under the age of two. The number of premature births is on the rise in the United States. With this rise comes an increasing number of infants that are more susceptible to serious RSV disease. Here’s what you should know about RSV prevention.

“October heralds the start of what is known as the RSV season”.
The British Lung Foundation

RSV - respiratory syncytial virus - affects most children by the age of two. For most it causes no more than a cold, but can be serious for some.

A survey of 500 parents found nine out of 10 were unaware of the symptoms and dangers.

Chest infections due to RSV are the most common cause of hospital admissions for young children, with about 20,000 under ones being admitted each year.

“RSV affects nearly all children at some point in their early years so parents need to be aware of the symptoms and to know when they should seek medical attention.”
Professor Warren Lenney, of the British Lung Foundation.

In the most serious RSV cases, children can develop bronchitis or pneumonia and - albeit very rarely - die.

Babies born prematurely or those with heart defects are particularly at risk.


Symptoms of the condition usually first appear in the form of the common cold. These include:

  • runny nose,
  • mild fever,
  • sore throat,
  • mild cough,
  • blocked nose and
  • ear infection

After three to five days symptoms may worsen as the virus spreads to the lungs, causing:

  • breathlessness,
  • rapid breathing,
  • wheezing,
  • a blue color around the lips,
  • a strong cough and
  • difficulty eating.

An infected, high-risk baby can get very sick very quickly. The highest months of RSV exposure are from fall through spring, and it is spread like the common cold virus: by sneezing, coughing, or hand-to-hand contact.


Babies who are at-risk for RSV should get an injection of a preventive medicine called Synagis,, once a month at the beginning of the RSV season, usually five injections. Studies have shown that infants who are given this preventive medicine have a 55 to 78 percent reduced risk of being hospitalized for RSV than untreated infants. Synagis,, is not a vaccine, but rather a protein antibody that binds to the RSV virus and neutralizes it. Besides this medical protection from RSV, other home-health measures that parents can do to lessen the chance of their baby becoming infected with RSV are:

  • Insist that caregivers wash their hands before touching baby.
  • Wear a mask if you have a cold or when exposing baby to other children or people with cold symptoms.
  • Keep baby away from crowded places.
  • Do not smoke around baby.

If you have a baby in the following risk category, be sure to talk to your child’s doctor about preventive medication.

Who should get RSV preventive medicine?

Because these injections are expensive, the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics has devised guidelines on which infants should get this RSV preventive medicine. Here are the general guidelines:

  • All premature infants under 32 weeks of age at the start of the RSV season
  • All infants under two years of age with chronic lung disease
  • All infants under two years of age with certain types of congenital heart disease
  • All infants under two years of age with compromised pulmonary or immune function

Infants between 32 and 35 weeks of age at the start of the RSV season are in a sort of in a gray zone in which additional risk factors may make them candidates for these injections. This is the group your babies fit into. Infants between 32 and 35 weeks with the following risk factors should receive the RSV preventive-medicine injections:

  • Infants in daycare
  • Twins or multiple births
  • Infants who are exposed to tobacco smoke and other environmental air pollutants
  • Any medical condition that compromises breathing
  • Infants who have school-age siblings

While Synagis, is expensive, it is very cost effective, which is why most insurance companies willingly cover it. The expense of hospitalization for RSV can be ten times the cost of this preventive medicine. Even though RSV is a common and serious illness in infants at risk, using the above medical and home-health preventive measures should lessen its severity.

For more information on RSV

I received this email from a Mother in America in 2008.

Parents - please know that there is a vaccination out there for RSV - you need to have your doctor or cardiologist request approval from your insurance company for this. Children with CHD are almost ALWAYS approved. Contact your insurance company for more information.

The vaccination is called Synagis (pronouced Sin-a-jis).
This vaccination is rather pricey (several thousand dollars a month). The amount the child receives depends on his/her weight and it is given every 28-30 days from October to April (RSV season).

My son weighs 22 pounds right now (at age one) and his Synagis vaccinations run about $6,000.00 per month right now. Yeah, that was SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS PER MONTH. No Typo there.
There are resources to help pay for this though. Google it.
And more information on it :