Fast Five Quiz: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD


November 08, 2022

The incubation period for RSV is typically 2-8 days (mean, 4-6 days). RSV infection is limited to the respiratory tract. Initial infection in young infants or children frequently involves the lower respiratory tract and most often manifests as the clinical entity of bronchiolitis. Inoculation of the virus occurs in respiratory epithelial cells of the upper respiratory tract. Spread of the virus down the respiratory tract occurs through cell-to-cell transfer of the virus along intracytoplasmic bridges (syncytia) from the upper to the lower respiratory tract.

In the community setting, several factors have been associated with an increased risk of acquiring RSV disease, including the following:

  • Childcare attendance

  • Older siblings in preschool or school

  • Crowding and lower socioeconomic status

  • Exposure to environmental pollutants (eg, cigarette smoke)

  • Multiple birth sets (especially triplets or greater)

  • Minimal breastfeeding

Learn more about RSV infection.


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