Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): Prevention and risks

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How RSV spreads

RSV is very contagious. It can spread from one person to another by:

Preventing RSV

Use personal protective measures to help reduce your risk of getting or spreading RSV:

If you have cold-like symptoms, you should:

Learn more about:

Using medication

There are some products that have been shown to prevent RSV disease. For infants, there are 2 approved products (called monoclonal antibodies) used to prevent RSV. Neither product can be used to treat infants who already have RSV disease.

There's now an approved vaccine that can be given during pregnancy to prevent RSV disease in infants. In addition, 2 vaccines to prevent RSV disease for those 60 years of age and older are approved in Canada. The availability of these products can vary depending on where you live. Ask your health care provider about the best option for you and your family.

Risks of getting RSV

RSV is a seasonal viral infection that circulates from the fall to spring months. In healthy children and adults, RSV symptoms are similar to those of the common cold.

Although most children have had an RSV infection by the time they are 2 years old, repeat infections can occur at any age. Repeat infections of RSV are often less severe.

Who is most at risk of severe RSV infection

Some populations are at a higher risk of severe RSV infections, such as:

Recommendations for travellers

RSV is common around the world.

To prevent getting an RSV infection when travelling, practise regular hand hygiene, such as washing your hands or using hand sanitizer. You should also cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow instead of your hands. Wearing a respirator or mask is another effective measure that helps provide protection against respiratory infectious diseases.

For example, wear a mask in settings that bring together a large number of people. This includes those who have travelled from different areas, like airports or train stations. These settings have an increased risk of disease transmission.

If you're planning to travel, consult:

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