Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is not only a common contagious virus but also a leading cause of other respiratory illnesses like bronchiolitis and pneumonia.1 Though many recover from RSV relatively easily, it does pose a larger risk for infants and elderly adults. In this article, we delve into what RSV is, its symptoms, and most importantly, measures one can take to prevent the spread of this common, yet potentially dangerous, virus.  

Medical personnel holding negative test of RSV Respiratory Syncytial Virus
Medical personnel holding negative test of RSV Respiratory Syncytial Virus

What is RSV and Who Does it Affect?  

RSV infects the lungs and respiratory tract, but presents as the common cold, sharing many similar symptoms. To many people, this is not a life-threatening virus – in fact, it is so common that most children will have had it by the time they’re two years old.2 To others who are immunocompromised, infants, and elderly adults, RSV can be very dangerous. The symptoms present as a common cold with things like   

  • Runny nose  
  • Decrease in appetite  
  • Coughing  
  • Sneezing  
  • Fever  
  • Wheezing  

While most people who contract RSV recover within a week or two, it is important to note that RSV can pose serious risks to those around us. Infants and older adults, in particular, are at a higher risk of developing severe RSV and could lead to hospitalization.1 This is why the prevention and awareness of RSV is so important.  

Preventing RSV  

As mentioned above, knowing how to prevent RSV is just as critical as understanding it. It’s important to take preventative measures, especially in settings where vulnerable groups are present. Here are some of the most effective strategies to prevent the spread of this virus.  

Avoiding Contact 

One of the best ways to prevent the spread of RSV, especially to high-risk groups, is by avoiding contact when you have symptoms. If you’re feeling stuffy, coughing, sneezing, running a fever, or wheezing, it’s a good idea to keep your distance from vulnerable individuals. If you can’t avoid being around them, remember to practice good hygiene: wash your hands often and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.  With RSV, the asymptomatic rate is high, so if you discover you have been exposed to RSV within 7-10 days, it is recommended to wear a mask when you are around high-risk people. Masks can offer many levels of protection depending on the quality of the mask used and if it is used correctly.

Vaccination for High-Risk Groups 

For infants, there are two options of vaccination. One is an RSV vaccine given during pregnancy, while the other is an RSV immunization that provides antibodies to your baby after birth. While neither are necessary, they can be beneficial.   

Vaccination is particularly crucial for those over 60 who are at a higher risk of severe RSV infection.3 The frequency of receiving the RSV vaccine is determined by individual health conditions and the guidance provided by healthcare professionals. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if RSV vaccination is right for you.   

For more information on where you can receive the RSV vaccine near you, click here.  

Indoor Air Quality Systems  

RSV is an easily spread virus. When RSV is contracted, the virus can live for hours on hard objects such as countertops, crib rails and toys.2 Touching your mouth, nose or eyes after touching a contaminated object may lead to infection.   

One efficient way in preventing the spread of RSV is an in-home air quality system. While these systems are effective in slowly cleaning the air, they don’t target points of entry- like your front door. One innovative solution, AURA Ion Bar™, uses negative air ions to eliminate and deactivate pathogens at the entry point before they can enter your space. Ion Bar has also been lab tested to eliminate RSV on surfaces specifically, allowing you to feel safer in your home.   

Learn more about AURA Ion Bar here.  

RSV may be mild for some, but it can be severe for others, so it’s our responsibility to protect those at risk. By taking preventive measures, we can significantly reduce the spread of this virus. Let’s all do our part to stay informed and protect those around us from RSV. Your actions can make a real difference in the fight against this common, yet potentially dangerous, virus.  

This article has been reviewed and endorsed by Steve Cunnion, Ph.D., M.D., a world-renowned epidemiologist. Dr. Cunnion was the first person to alert the Western world of the SARS outbreak, for which he received the 2003 ProMED Reporting Award. Read more about Dr. Cunnion here.


  1. Symptoms and Care of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) | CDC 
  2. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – Symptoms & causes – Mayo Clinic 
  3. Preventing RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) | CDC 
  4. Brooks, T, Behind the Mask; How the World Survived SARS. American Public Health Association, Washington, DC, 2005, p. 11