Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

pp 1835-1836

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

  • Richard J. SugrueAffiliated withInstitute of Physiology, University of TuebingenDivision of Molecular and Cell Biology, School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University

Synonyms

RSV; Human RSV; HRSV

Definition and Characteristics

Although human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) was first reported in infants exhibiting respiratory distress in 1957 [1], it is now recognised as one of the most important causes of lower respiratory tract infection in young children. The virus is spread in respiratory droplets, and transmission can occur either directly during close contact between individuals, or by contact with contaminated surfaces. In temperate climates HRSV epidemics are seasonal, usually occurring from late autumn until early spring. In tropical climates HRSV infections occur through-out the year, but an increase in the HRSV infection rate is observed during the rainy seasons. Although the disease symptoms are usually relatively mild in healthy adults, severe complications, including bronchial pneumonia and respiratory failure, can occur in certain high-risk groups. These include neonates and premature babies, the ...

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