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The RSV virus (respiratory syncytial virus) causes respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Transmission typically occurs through close contact with infected people or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. RSV is unstable in the environment (surviving only a few hours on environmental surfaces), and is quickly inactivated with soap and water, as well as disinfectants.

What Is RSV Virus?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation within the small airways of the lungs) and pneumonia among infants and children under one year of age. Virtually all children in the United States have been infected with RSV by the age of three.
 

Specifics of the RSV Virus

The RSV virus is known as an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus. It is part of the Paramyxoviridae family in the class of Pneumovirus.
 
This virus is variable in shape and size (average diameter is between 120 and 300 nanometers), and RSV RNA codes for ten specific proteins. There appear to be two subtypes. The importance of these subtypes is currently being researched.
 

How Is It Transmitted?

The RSV virus is spread through respiratory secretions, through close contact with infected people, or through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Infection can occur when contaminated material comes into contact with mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth, or nose, and possibly through the inhalation of droplets generated by a sneeze or cough.
 

RSV in the Environment

RSV is unstable in the environment (surviving only a few hours on environmental surfaces). It is quickly inactivated with soap and water, as well as disinfectants.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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