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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

What is RSV?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) affects the lungs and breathing. It's commonly found in young children but also significantly impacts the respiratory health of older adults.

When is it most common?

RSV infections tend to happen in the fall, winter, and early spring.

How long does RSV last?

An RSV infection typically lasts between one to two weeks. It's possible to get RSV more than once, but subsequent infections are often milder than the first. Who's Most at Risk? Those with compromised immune systems and individuals with certain medical conditions face the greatest risk of experiencing severe RSV symptoms. 

Who's most at risk?

People with weakened immune systems and certain medical conditions are most at risk of severe RSV symptoms.

RSV usually shows symptoms similar to a mild cold, such as:

  • Fever
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Occasional wheezing

RSV can lead to more concerning conditions such as:

  • Ear infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchiolitis (affecting the tiny airways and spaces in the lungs)

How does RSV spread?

RSV is present in saliva and fluids from the nose and mouth. It's transmitted between people through: 

  • Direct Contact: When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the droplets can land on the face of someone nearby, leading to infection.
  • Surfaces and Objects: These droplets can also settle on items around us, where the virus can live for several hours. Touching these contaminated objects and then touching your face can introduce the virus to your system. 

How long is someone contagious?

  • Adults and older children can spread RSV for about eight days.
  • Infants with RSV can remain contagious for up to three to four weeks. 

Onset of symptoms

If you've been exposed to RSV, symptoms usually appear within three to five days.

If you or a loved one are at higher risk and suspect an RSV infection, seek medical advice quickly

RSV vaccine

Ontario is rolling out its first publicly funded vaccination program of the first Health Canada approved RSV vaccine, Arexvy, for those 60 years and older living in Long-Term Care Homes, Elder Care Lodges, and in some retirement homes.

The RSV vaccine will NOT be available at Porcupine Health Unit clinics.