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Respiratory Syncytial Virus


Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a highly contagious virus that causes infections of the lungs and breathing passages in individuals of all age groups. RSV circulation is seasonal, typically starting during the fall and peaking in the winter. Infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV and may need hospitalization.

Transmission of RSV occurs through contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person. This can happen when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, releasing tiny droplets into the air that can be inhaled by others. The virus can also be spread by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching one's nose, mouth, or eyes.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of RSV disease include:
  • Runny nose

  • Decreased appetite

  • Coughing

  • Sneezing

  • Fever

  • Wheezing

RSV was first identified in chimpanzees in 1956 and then identified as a causative agent of respiratory disease in children in 1957. It wouldn’t be until 1981 that a better understanding of the virus was achieved through genetic sequencing of the virus. That advancement led to a leap in research into a vaccine against the disease it causes.

On May 3, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine for people 60 and older in the United States. Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, Arexvy.

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