Fast Five Quiz: Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Supatida Tengsupakul, MD


September 24, 2019

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common disease among infants and young children worldwide. Global data from 2015 estimated that in children < 5 years of age, there were 33.1 million cases of RSV, which led to 3.2 million hospital admissions and 59,600 deaths.

RSV is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) in infants. Infections spike during "RSV season," which varies by climate and between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Inoculation generally begins in the upper respiratory tract via the nasopharyngeal or conjunctival mucosa and progresses to the lower respiratory tract. Typical presentations of infection are bronchiolitis or viral pneumonia.

Severe RSV infection is most common among infants aged 2-8 months. Peak incidence occurs between age 2 and 3 months owing to nadir concentration of protective maternal immunoglobulin G (IgG). Nearly half of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths due to RSV occur in infants younger than 6 months. Factors associated with more severe illness include premature birth; infection at < 3 months of age; and comorbidities, such as chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, and immunodeficiency. Premature infants are at risk for severe disease owing to lack of protective maternal IgG and immature T-cell–mediated responses. RSV remains viable on fomites for up to 6 hours, emphasizing the need for handwashing and contact precautions (wearing gown and gloves) during hospitalization. Exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months is recommended to decrease the morbidity of respiratory infection.

How much do you know about RSV infection? Test your knowledge with this quick quiz.


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