RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) Information

What is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common virus, affecting the airway and lungs, that we see in high volumes most winters. While RSV is a common virus, we are seeing higher numbers this cold and flu season.

The virus causes mild illness in most children and adults, causing cold-like symptoms and possibly some wheezing and coughing. In children ages 0 to 5, mucous production for the virus can plug lower airways and cause some breathing difficulties such as:

  • Breathing fast
  • Working hard to breathe
  • Tiring easily

If this is the case, parents and caregivers should contact their pediatrician for advice. In the case of a clear emergency, children should be taken to the closest ER.

Treatment of the worst cases of RSV may require patients to receive some oxygen support, fluid injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration, and monitoring so doctors can tell if a patient is improving or needs more care. Our providers and staff are very well-versed in the care of RSV and the steps that can be taken to make patients comfortable and improve their illness.

What is Dartmouth Health Children's doing?

Many hospitals and emergency rooms across the country are experiencing a much higher number of children needing special care. Dartmouth Health Children's is leading efforts to make sure community hospitals in NH and VT feel prepared to meet the needs of their local patients. We are offering educational sessions to centers who care for children and are focusing on advice for some of the worst conditions they may see. In addition to education, we are including lists of special equipment needs to help care for patients, so it is available when needed. We are working closely every day with other area hospitals who care for children so that patients can receive the right level of care as close to home as possible. 

Dartmouth Health Children's is expanding our ability to see sick patients by opening additional clinic appointments and creating new inpatient spaces to accommodate the sickest children requiring hospital care, at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock in Lebanon.

Our providers are very experienced in the care of RSV and will provide needed treatments to help reduce symptoms so children can be more comfortable as illness improves.

What can parents and caregivers do to keep children healthy?

To support us in our efforts to keep children healthy, we ask that you do the following to avoid the spread of respiratory illnesses:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid being near people who are sick.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean often touched surfaces such as door knobs.

We also recommend that children over 6 months of age are fully vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19.

For more information on RSV please visit RSV: When It's More Than Just a Cold -