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 possibility 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. 

Who does RSV most affect?

  • RSV can cause severe infection in babies 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 of RSV, COVID-19, and the flu 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?

  • Two to eight days following exposure, an individual is typically contagious and can spread RSV to others for an additional three to eight days. 

What precautions should I 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!