Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that causes lower respiratory tract infection in all age groups. The virus belongs to the genus Orthopneumovirus within the family Pneumoviridae and order Mononegavirales. Most RSV infections are mild and cause symptoms similar to the common cold. However, severe cases of RSV infections are the leading cause of hospitalisation for respiratory diseases among children under five years old. The reported cases are at its peak during the cold months. RSV can also cause more severe infections, especially in people at high risk. These infections include bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

In Brazil, the seasonality of the virus varies according to the region: in the North, for example, it starts in February and in the South, in April. Consequently, on 13 May 2023, a state of emergency has been implemented in the Brazilian state of Amapá, as an increase by 108 percent of hospitalizations of infants showing symptoms of RSV has been reported between January and May Medical facilities in the region are also reportedly overwhelmed with the influx of patients infected with RVS as well as cases of Influenza A and B and COVID – 19.

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The RSV symptoms are discernible almost after four to six days after having contracted the infection and usually appear in stages instead of all at once. They include:

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Those at risk at contracting severe RSV

  • All infants or young children born prematurely, with congenital heart or lung disease, weakened immune systems or have neuromuscular disorders.
  • People with immunodeficiency, such as organ transplant recipients, chemotherapy patients or HIV/AIDS patients.
  • Older adults suffering from chronic health diseases.


It can spread from person-to-person contact, or from interactions with contaminated surfaces particularly in healthcare facilities.


  • A physical exam at the physician.
  • A lab test of nasal fluid or another respiratory specimen to check for RSV.This is usually done for people with severe infection.
  • Tests to check for complications in people with severe infection. The tests may include a chest x-ray and blood and urine tests.


  • For infants, no vaccine has been introduced yet. Palivizumab, an immunoglobulin—that induces specific passive immunization against RSV can be administered to them. Avoid giving aspirin and/or cough medicine to infants.
  • Arexvy, the first respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine has been approved for use in the United States for individuals 60 years of age and older on 03 May by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • The possibility of hospitalization in case of severe infection cannot be ruled out.


For Organizations

  • Employees must be educated about the signs and symptoms of RSV, infection prevention and control measures, and the importance of adhering to the guidelines.
  • Maintain open lines of communication with employees and encourage them to report any symptoms or concerns related to respiratory illnesses promptly.
  • Provide hand sanitizers in common areas such as entrances, meeting rooms, and cafeterias.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, keyboards, and phones. Increase the frequency of cleaning in common areas and high-traffic areas like the canteen, meeting rooms etc.
  • Ensure proper ventilation in the workplace to improve air circulation.
  • Consider remote work options or flexible scheduling for those affected with RVS as well as for parents who’s child has been diagnosed with RVS.
  • Consider implementing measures such as staggered shifts, limiting the umber of employees in shared spaces, or rearranging workstations to allow for increased distance.
  • Encourage employees to maintain physical distance from each other, especially in common areas.
  • Encourage employees to get vaccinated against respiratory infections, including influenza and pneumococcal infections. While there is currently no vaccine for RSV in Brazil, reducing the risk of other respiratory infections can indirectly lower the burden on healthcare systems.
  • Provide regular updates and reminders about health and safety protocols.
  • Advised to stay informed about RSV through reliable sources such as public health authorities like Brazilian Ministry of Health’s website (Ministério da Saúde (www.gov.br)) for more information or dial 136, the ministry’s hotline number.
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