Global Point of Care

All about RSV

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus. Most of the time, it causes mild, cold-like symptoms that can be easily confused with other respiratory illnesses. But there are cases that can be serious and lead to more severe illnesses. Confirming RSV with a rapid molecular test may provide you with confidence in knowing your symptoms are caused by a virus that will usually run its course without treatment.

Find a healthcare professional for more information.

Understanding RSV

  • Most children will have an RSV infection by the time they turn two years old1
  • 1-2% of infants younger than 6 months may need to be hospitalized1,6
  • Up to half of infants and young children with RSV will have an infection deeper into their airways1,6
  • In the US, more than 177,000 adults aged 65 years or older are hospitalized because of RSV every year2
  • For most adults, RSV is not common, but in certain adult populations, like the elderly, persons with cardiopulmonary disease or those who are immunocompromised, RSV can be serious10
Common symptoms of RSV1,6
  • Mild, cold-like symptoms in the nose, throat, and sinuses
  • Fevers
  • Chills
  • Cough 
  • Runny nose

Experiencing symptoms?

Learn more about RSV symptoms and potential complications, as well as how rapid molecular tests can quickly identify the RSV virus so you can start the right treatment earlier and get well sooner.

Antibiotics cannot treat RSV or stop it from spreading

Like all viruses, RSV cannot be treated with antibiotics.5 Rapid RSV testing can help your clinician get results quickly to help reduce inappropriate antibiotic use.7

The best way to stop RSV from spreading is to:8

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or upper shirt sleeve
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces
  • Parents should keep children with symptoms away from younger siblings who may be at a higher risk for severe RSV

Rapid molecular testing for RSV may be the best way to quickly diagnose your infection. Once you have a diagnosis, you can take the right precautions to avoid spreading RSV to your vulnerable loved ones.9

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Sign up for Rapid Insights, our email series on rapid molecular testing.

This program will teach you about rapid tests and how they can quickly identify illnesses like the flu, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and strep throat. Rapid testing can help you get treated earlier and get well sooner.

Keep reading
  1. “RSV in Infants and Young Children” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed December 18, 2020.
  2. “RSV in Older Adults and Adults With Chronic Medical Conditions” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed December 18, 2020.
  3. “Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV)” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed December 18, 2020.
  4. Azar, Marwan M,. Marie L. Landry. "Detection of Inluenza A and B Viruses and Respiratory Syncytial Virus by Use of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendements of 1988 (CLIA)-Waived Point-of-Care Assays: A Paradigm Shift to Molecular Tests." Journal of Clinical Microbiology 56, no. 7 (July 2018): e00367-18.
  5. “Symptoms and Care.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed September 24, 2021.
  6. Borchers, Andrea T., et al. "Respiratory Syncytial Virus - A Comprehensive Review." Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology 45, no. 3 (December 2013): 331-379.
  7. Stivers, Tanya. "Managing Patient Pressure to Prescribe Antibiotics in the Clinic." Pediatric Drugs 23, no. 5 (September 2021): 437-443.
  8. "RSV Prevention." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed December 18, 2020.
  9. Wabe, Nasir., et al. "The Impact of Rapid Molecular Diagnostic Testing for Respiratory Viruses on Outcomes for Emergency Department Patients." Medical Journal of Australia 210, no. 7 (April 2019): 316-320.
  10. Falsey, Ann R., Walsh Edward E. "Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection in Adults." Clin Microbiol Rev. 2000 Jul; 13(3): 371–384. doi: 10.1128/cmr.13.3.371-384.2000