Understanding & Preventing Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is a very common respiratory virus, particularly among children. Over the past year, there were drastically fewer RSV cases due to the COVID-19 safety measures in place across the country. However, with the relaxation of many infection prevention protocols, an unusual surge in RSV cases began in the summer of 2021 and has continued into the fall. Most people, including infants, usually develop mild symptoms similar to that of a common cold. But for some, it can be severe and even life-threatening. 

What is RSV? 

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common and highly contagious virus that causes respiratory illness in the nose, throat, and lungs. Generally, RSV outbreaks coincide with influenza season, with cases rising in the late fall through early spring months but can vary in different parts of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus infects millions of babies and young children every year, and most children will have an RSV infection by their second birthday. For many, including infants, RSV typically results in mild, cold-like symptoms, with congestion, runny nose, and cough. Most people recover in a week or two. However, RSV can be severe, especially for infants, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems. 

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation and congestion of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than one year of age in the U.S. RSV can also lead to severe dehydration and dangerously high fever. There is no cure for RSV. Call your pediatrician right away if you believe your child may have RSV.

Is RSV the Same As COVID-19? 

RSV is different from COVID-19. RSV belongs to a family of viruses known as pneumoviruses, whereas SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease COVID-19) belongs to a group of viruses known as coronaviruses. Since RSV and SARS-CoV-2 are both respiratory viruses, their symptoms can be similar, according to the Mayo Clinic. Both can cause fever, shortness of breath, coughing, a runny nose, sore throat, and headache. However, RSV doesn’t have some of the gastrointestinal symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, that can be seen in children with COVID-19. As well, RSV has never been associated with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS) in children, a severe illness causing rash, fevers, and typically hospitalizations after an acute COVID-19 illness.

How is RSV Transmitted? 

RSV is very contagious – particularly during the three-to seven-day period a person has symptoms. Some infants and people with compromised immune systems may remain infectious for as long as four weeks. Like many viruses, RSV spreads through direct person-to-person contact when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and then the virus becomes airborne and enters the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. It’s also spread by touching surfaces and objects on which the virus has landed and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth. RSV can live on surfaces for many hours and on unwashed hands for 30 minutes or more.

It takes between two to eight days from when a person is exposed to the RSV virus to exhibit symptoms. Symptoms usually last between three and seven days. Most children and adults fully recover in one to two weeks. Those with the RSV virus are generally contagious for three to eight days, though infants and those with weak immune systems can remain contagious for as long as four weeks – even after they have stopped showing symptoms. Keep in mind, children and adults can get RSV multiple times – even during a single season. Often, however, repeat infections are usually less severe than the first one.

Why is RSV a Concern? 

In a typical year, RSV results in more than 57,000 hospitalizations and 2 million outpatient visits each year among children five years old and younger. RSV also goes beyond young children and can impact the elderly and high-risk adults, with a disease burden similar to that of non-pandemic Influenza A in a population in which the prevalence of vaccination for influenza is high. Currently, there is no vaccine for RSV, and treatment is primarily supportive. 

How to Help Prevent RSV 

To help prevent RSV, follow many of the same steps you use to help protect your family from COVID-19 and cold and flu viruses. 

  • Wash your hands often for at least twenty seconds with soap and hot water. 
  • Use hand sanitizer (if soap and water aren’t available)
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Avoid close contact, kissing, shaking hands, sharing cups, utensils, or toys with others.
  • Stay home when you or someone in the household is sick. 
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated and frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, countertops, remotes, and toys, with an EPA-registered disinfectant, like Vital Oxide

Vital Oxide Kills 99.9% of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) 

Vital Oxide is an EPA-registered Hospital-Grade Disinfectant that eradicates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including RSV and COVID-19. As well as being a certified germ-killer, Vital Oxide is free from harsh chemicals, noxious fumes, harmful chemicals, and alarming safety warnings. Vital Oxide can be used on both hard and soft surfaces. Viruses like RSV can survive on surfaces for several hours, so frequently cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces can go a long way in preventing infection, particularly if someone in your household is sick with RSV. 

With Vital Oxide, you no longer need to use bleach and other harsh chemicals that increase volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your environment. Instead, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re using a disinfectant that’s gentle enough to use in all areas of the home while still effectively eliminating pathogens, including RSV. 

Additional Resources 

At Vital Oxide, we’re proud to offer a revolutionary disinfectant powerful enough to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria without harsh chemicals. Follow us on Instagram (@vitaloxideofficial) for more great cleaning and disinfecting tips. If you have any questions, please Contact Us or Send Us a Message on Facebook. We're here to help. 

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