The RS Virus - What should you pay attention to?

The RS virus is the most common cold virus in children. RS is an abbreviation of 'Respiratory Syncytial'. Almost all children get an infection with this virus in the first year of life, especially in the winter period.
Nobody is waiting for snot noses, especially not for the little ones, so we wondered whether contamination can also be prevented? And if that does not work, then how best to deal with it.

What is an RS virus infection?

An RS virus infection is a respiratory tract infection caused by the respiratory syncytial virus. The virus is seen as one of the main causes of colds. For adults this is the case with this cold, but especially in very young children the cold can skip on the lower airways.

Infection with the RS virus

The RS virus is so common that every child is infected with it in the first years of life. The virus is very contagious, you can pass it on by coughing or sneezing (droplets in the air), but also with your hands. The virus also remains alive for hours on toys or other objects.
Certainly children who stay at a nursery will get it in their first year of life. The virus is transmitted through direct contact (hand contact, cuddling, inhaling exhaled air). Babies are often infected by contact with an adult who just seems to have a cold.

Risk group

Babies with heart or lung problems, premature babies and babies with a malfunctioning immune system are particularly susceptible to developing a serious infection in the airways.

Illness symptoms

The time between infection and the first symptoms of illness varies from 2 to 8 days. The most common complaints are a nasal cold, cough, mild fever. An initial infection in childhood can be serious and accompanied by fever, chest tightness, pneumonia or blood poisoning (sepsis). In addition, RS infection can cause ear infections in children. Especially babies up to 6 months can get pretty sick of the virus. Because their airways are still very narrow, they can get quick (ler) stuffy. Their immune system is also not yet fully developed, so that they are less able to absorb the virus.

With a reinfection, the symptoms are usually mild. In elderly and people with underlying cardiovascular disease, RS virus infection can produce flu-like symptoms and the chances of developing pneumonia increase.


In children younger than 100 days of breastfeeding, the disease often has a milder course.


Treatment of an RS virus infection is in most cases not necessary and it is a matter of getting your child out sick. Often the symptoms disappear automatically after a few days to a week. Consultation with a GP is advisable when:

  • Someone is very stuffy;
  • Someone has high fever (higher than 39 degrees);
  • Someone has a fever for longer than 3 days;
  • A child younger than 3 months has a fever;
  • Children up to 1 year of age do not drink or eat well.

When your child is very stuffy, the doctor can prescribe some drops of the nose or an inhalation agent. If your child almost does not get air and therefore does not drink properly, he can be admitted to the hospital for signs of dehydration.

Prevention of contamination

Contamination is almost unavoidable and unfortunately your baby is not immune if he has had it once. The RS virus is located in the nose and throat of infected persons and can be transmitted by droplets that are released during coughing, sneezing and talking. Contamination takes place through the nose, eyes or mouth.

A person with the RS virus can infect others before he becomes ill himself. Someone is no longer contagious when he is completely better. Children under 2 years are more contagious.

Practical tips

Video: Treating Upper Respiratory Infections

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