Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV
) is a virus that causes respiratory infections. RSV 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.
RSV most frequently occurs in infants from one to six months old, with the highest rates occurring between two and three months. Almost 100 percent of children in daycare
settings have had an RSV infection.
Is Infant RSV Contagious?
RSV is very contagious. It is believed that by the age of three, almost all children will have had an RSV infection. Fortunately, in most cases, the infection is not serious.
An infant is most contagious during the first two to four days of RSV symptoms.
RSV is spread through respiratory secretions, through close contact with infected people, or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Infection can occur when infectious 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.
Incubation Period for RSV in Infants
When an infant becomes infected with RSV, the virus begins to multiply within the body. After four to six days, RSV symptoms can begin. The period between becoming infected and the start of RSV symptoms is called the RSV incubation period.