RSV infection in young children is also called bronchiolitis, because it is marked by inflammation of the bronchioles, the narrow airways that lead from the large airways (bronchi) to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs.
Ribavirin (Rebetol, Virazol), used for treatment of hospitalized infants and young children with severe lower respiratory tract infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), but its value is controversial.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that can cause severe lower respiratory infections in children younger than two years of age and milder upper respiratory infections in older children and adults.
Scientists had, as of 2004, not understood why RSV viruses attack the lower respiratory system in infants and the upper respiratory system in adults.
Many older children and adults get RSV infection, but the symptoms are so similar to the common cold that the true cause is undiagnosed.
Breathing problems occur in RSV infections because the bronchioles swell, making it difficult for air to get in and out of the lungs.
It has been shown that if a person with RSV infection sneezes, the virus can be carried to others within a radius of 6 feet (1.8 m).
In the United States, RSV infection occurs most frequently in infants between the ages of two months and six months.
RSV infection is primarily a disease of winter or early spring, with waves of illness sweeping through a community.
The rate of RSV infection is estimated to be 11.4 cases for every 100 children during their first year of life.