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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Last updated: 18th Jul 2024

What are the risk factors for severe RSV? 

Risk factors for severe RSV in children and infants includes prematurity, low birth weight, male sex, immune disorders, neuromuscular disorders, chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease in children aged two years or younger and being aged ≤6 months at the start of the RSV season6,7,11–14. Risk for severe RSV in adults is increased in people aged 65 years and older, those who are immunosuppressed or immune compromised and those with chronic lung or heart disease, diabetes mellitus, or end-stage renal disease8,15–17.

What are the current RSV treatment strategies?

There are currently no approved treatments for RSV. Ribavirin has been used off-label to help manage severe RSV infections, but its use is limited due to an unfavourable safety profile5,18. RSV treatment therefore usually centres around providing symptomatic relief, which may require hospitalisation and ventilatory support5,19.

Is there an RSV vaccine?

The only preventative therapy for RSV is palivizumab, but this drug is not available to adults20. Developing vaccines for older adults can be challenging, however various RSV vaccines are being investigated, with several Phase II and Phase III clinical trials currently underway5. Most of these investigational vaccines are based on the F protein of RSV21.

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  2. Chatterjee A, Mavunda K, Krilov LR. Current state of respiratory syncytial virus disease and management. Infect Dis Ther. 2021;10:5–16.
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