RSV and Influenza Information

  • We are seeing a significant impact from RSV illness in our state and county. 

    What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus?
    Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is a virus causing respiratory illness in young children. It is the most
    frequent cause of lower respiratory infections, such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia, in children under 1
    year of age.

    What are the symptoms of RSV?
    The time between exposure to the virus and development of symptoms is usually between 2 and 8 days.
    Symptoms in most children and adults resemble a cold and begin with fever*, runny nose, cough, and
    sometimes wheezing. In very young children, and particularly with premature infants, symptoms may
    include lethargy, irritability, poor feeding, and breathing difficulty. Most children recover from illness in 8 to
    15 days.

    How is RSV spread?
    RSV is spread by respiratory droplets either directly through the air or indirectly by hands, tissues, or
    mouthed toys. Most outbreaks occur in winter or early spring.
    Who is at risk from RSV?
    Virtually all children are infected by 2 years of age. Re-infection throughout life is common and is usually
    associated with moderate-to-severe cold-like symptoms. However, RSV in premature and very young
    infants (under 6 months of age) is especially dangerous. Elderly persons and or young children with
    weakened immune systems or chronic lung or heart conditions are also at risk for developing

    How is RSV diagnosed?
    A health care provider can take a swab of the nose or throat to find the virus. Blood tests may also be
    done to identify a RSV infection.

    How is RSV treated?
    Most people with RSV recover without treatment. General comfort measures are all that are needed for
    most cases of RSV. Fever reducing medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may be given if the
    child has a fever. Do not give aspirin to a child with fever, as this has been associated with Reye
    Syndrome. Children with severe RSV symptoms may need to be hospitalized.
    * Fever is defined as: temperature of 101F (38.3C) or higher.

    How can the spread of RSV be reduced?
    • The virus is easily removed with soap and water. Infections can be prevented through proper
    hand washing, especially after sneezing, coughing, or nose wiping.
    • Dispose of facial tissues properly and teach children to cover their mouth and nose when they
    cough or sneeze.
    • Cleaning and sanitizing toys or other objects children put into their mouths can also limit the
    spread of RSV.
    • Ensure that cribs are spaced 30 inches apart. Older children should be at least 18” on mats or
    sleep head to toe with adequate space between mats.
    • Provide a clean smock for infant room staff and change it daily. Infant room teachers should have
    an extra set of clothes available while at the center.
    • People with colds or bronchitis should avoid contact with infants.
    • Premature infants and infants with chronic lung disease who have had contact with someone with
    RSV may benefit from treatment to prevent RSV infection.

    American Academy of Pediatrics
    • Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools, 5th Edition. pages 147-148
    Centers for Diseases Control & Prevention
    • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV) website

    Skagit County Public Health
    700 S 2nd Street, STE 301 ◼ Mount Vernon, WA 98273 ◼ tel: 360 - 416 -1500 ◼fax: 360-416-1515
    *Adapted from the Snohomish Health District


    Influenza links you may find helpful:

    CDC Influenza Guidance

    CDC Symptoms Flu vs COVID

    Protect Your Family from the Flu

    Protect Your Family from the Flu (Spanish)