RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) is is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. Data on RSV circulation in Rhode Island is found at health.ri.gov/data/rsv. The data should not be used to calculate rates or case counts.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in one to two weeks. However, some infants and young children are at higher risk, such as premature infants, children younger than two years old with chronic lung disease or congenital (present from birth) heart disease, children with weakened immune systems, and children who have neuromuscular disorders. Additionally, some adults are at higher risk, including people older than 65, adults with chronic heart or lung disease, and adults with weakened immune systems.
With Rhode Island and states throughout the region currently seeing the circulation of several respiratory viruses, including RSV, flu, and COVID-19, all Rhode Islanders are reminded to take basic prevention measures to help themselves and their family members stay healthy and safe.
To help prevent respiratory viruses, Rhode Islanders should:
Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, and school.
Stay home if you are sick.
Keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, especially with a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever.
Contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you believe your child needs medical care. Your provider can offer advice on whether your child needs to be evaluated in person, tested for COVID or flu, and the best location (doctor's office, urgent care, emergency room) for care.
Get your flu shot. Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated every year. For information on where to get a flu shot, see health.ri.gov/flu.
Be up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations. For many people, that means getting a booster. For information on how to get vaccinated against COVID-19, see C19vaccineRI.org.
Talk to your healthcare provider to see if an RSV vaccination is right for you. An RSV vaccine can help protect adults aged 60 years and older from RSV. An RSV vaccine is also recommended for people who are 32-36 weeks pregnant during September through January. CDC recommends you use one of these two tools to protect your baby from getting very sick with RSV:
Two monoclonal antibody products – nirsevimab (Beyfortus) and palivizumab (Synagis) – can help protect babies and young children from severe disease from an RSV infection. Monoclonal antibodies are not vaccines. They provide an extra layer of defense that helps fight RSV infections and protect children from getting very sick. The protection these antibodies provide wanes over time. These products are not treatments for a child who already has RSV infection.
In addition to the prevention steps listed above, Rhode Islanders should know about the right places to seek care. Hospital emergency departments in Rhode Island are currently very crowded. Children and adults in emergency departments with less serious health issues are experiencing long wait times. People who do not need emergency medical care should not go to the emergency department. Long waits in the emergency department are frustrating, and they expose people to new sicknesses.
Many health issues can be treated more quickly and effectively by a primary care provider, in an urgent care facility, or in a health center. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has lists of primary care providers, urgent care centers, and health centers posted at health.ri.gov/rightplace.