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Definition of «Respiratory syncytial virus»

Respiratory syncytial virus: A virus that causes mild respiratory infections, colds, and coughs in adults, but can produce severe respiratory problems, including bronchitis and pneumonia in young children. Persons with compromised immune, cardiac or pulmonary systems are at high risk from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

RSV is highly contagious. It is spread from respiratory secretions. In temperate climates, RSV infections usually occur during annual community outbreaks, often lasting 4 to 6 months, during the late fall, winter, or early spring months. RSV spreads efficiently among children during the annual outbreaks, and most children have evidence of RSV infection by 2 years of age.

There is typically fever, prominent nasal secretions and congestion coupled with wheezing for 1-2 weeks. Effective immunity against RSV requires a continuous solid level of antibodies against the virus. There is particular concern for RSV in premature babies because of their lack of maturity and lack of antibodies. There is no RSV vaccine.

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