Respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV, is a highly contagious virus that causes respiratory infections. It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the bronchioles within the lungs) and pneumonia among infants and children under one year of age.
It is believed that by the age of three, almost all children will have had an RSV infection. Most of the time, the infection is not serious. However, severe lower respiratory tract disease is a potential complication. Serious cases can involve symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Inability to get enough oxygen
- A bluish or purplish tinge to skin.
(To learn more about this disease, including whether it can be prevented, click RSV.)