Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"What is RSV?"


Hello, I am a 57 year old grandmother of four. A few days ago, my daughter took her ill 6 month old daughter to the pediatrician who diagnosed her with PSV. Frankly, I have never heard of PSV as I never heard it mentioned while I was raising my three children. What I would like to know is what exactly is it and is it a new disease? Thank you!


RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus; it is a very common virus that causes symptoms of lower respiratory tract infections. It is the number one cause of bronchiolitis (which is inflammation of the small airways in the lungs known as bronchioles) and pneumonia in babies less than 1 year old in this country. The virus is so common that nearly all children have been exposed to the virus by the time they reach 3 years of age.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Pediatricians near you

Most of these children will suffer only mild symptoms of the illness, but a minority will develop a more serious infection requiring supportive care in the hospital setting. This care typically includes oxygen and fluids, and may also include nebulizer treatments with hypertonic saline. The virus was first isolated from animals in the 1950s, and subsequent studies have shown it to be a major cause of viral infections in the younger population. If you have any concerns about the health of your grandchildren and fear that they may have contracted a respiratory illness such as RSV, you should call the child's pediatrician immediately and relay your questions and concerns.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.