RSV and the 'tripledemic'

Nov. 8, 2022

A recent increase of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), a contagious respiratory virus that affects the lungs and breathing passages, among young children in the United States has sparked a discussion about the potential of RSV, COVID-19, and influenza to create a ‘tripledemic’ this winter.  Although vaccines are available for COVID-19 and the Influenza virus, there are no vaccines available for RSV, making preventative measures essential to decreasing the spread of RSV. Keep reading for some more frequently asked questions that your constituents may have about RSV!

Who does RSV affect?

  • RSV can cause severe infection in infants 12 months and younger, older adults, people with heart and lung disease, or individuals who are immunocompromised. 

How is RSV spread?

  • RSV is spread through the droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can live on surfaces for a few hours, and can also be spread when a person touches the contaminated surface. 

What are the symptoms of RSV?

  • The symptoms for RSV, COVID-19, and influenza can look very similar in children and young adults. Symptoms include: 
    • Congestion.
    • Cough.
    • Runny nose.
    • Muscle aches.
    • Fever.
    • Headache.

How severe is RSV?

  • Most people recover from RSV within one to two weeks, although younger children and older adults are more likely to face severe cases of RSV. ​​RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.

How long is someone contagious with RSV?

  • After two to eight days of an incubation period, an individual can be contagious and spread RSV to others for three to eight days. 

What precautions should individuals take to avoid getting RSV?

  • Covering your coughs and sneezes, frequently washing your hands, wearing a mask, and avoiding close contact with others who are sick can greatly reduce the potential of contracting RSV. These precautions also help fight against the spread of COVID-19 and Influenza virus!