Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that causes lung and respiratory tract infections. It is highly contagious. A person infected with RSV spreads the virus in droplets when they cough, sneeze or talk.

Most adults and older children with RSV will experience symptoms similar to the common cold. However, very young children and premature babies can become very sick and may require hospitalisation. In this age group RSV can cause bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small breathing tubes of the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lung).

Many children will be able to recover from this illness at home, but some will be admitted to hospital to support their feeding and to be given additional oxygen when that is needed. Older adults, people with compromised immune systems and those with heart or lungs conditions are also more at risk from RSV.

Antibiotics are not usually helpful as it is a viral infection.

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