Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus

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Definition - What does Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus mean?

Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a respiratory virus characterized by cold-like symptoms. In its mildest form, the virus may cause suffers to experience a fever, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, or cough. However, the condition can worsen and cause bronchitis or pneumonia to develop. The condition may affect individuals of any age but for infants, the elderly, and individuals with compromised health, RSV may be life-threatening.

SureHire explains Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus

The human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is spread through contact or airborne exposure. While healthy individuals are contagious for three to eight days, those with weakened immune systems may remain contagious for up to four weeks. The virus can survive for several hours on surfaces such as tables or door handles and spreads easily among close populations. Childcare facilities, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals are places where the virus can easily spread.

Different strains of RSV produce various severity of illness and symptoms. Infants and children with weakened immune systems or underlying lung or heart conditions are at higher risk for developing severe RSV symptoms. The elderly and adults who with weakened immune systems and those with cardiopulmonary diseases are also at higher risk for developing life-threatening complications from an RSV infection. In severe cases, RSV can cause inflammation in the lungs or airways. Symptoms of a severe RSV infection include wheezing, difficulty breathing, a severe cough, and fever. Prolonged symptoms can cause cyanosis, or bluing of the skin, due to lack of oxygen.

RSV treatment is usually similar to regular cold treatments. In some instances fever reducers or antibiotics may be used. In severe cases, a person suffering from RSV may require hospitalization. Once hospitalized, IV fluids and breathing assistance may be administered.

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