FAQs Data Reporting Resources
Individual cases of RSV are not reportable by law in Texas.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
School-aged children who are infected with RSV and have a mild
upper respiratory tract infection often introduce RSV into the home. RSV can
spread when a person with the virus coughs or sneezes into the
air. Virus-containing droplets generated from these activities may
cause infection when they come into contact with another person’s nose,
mouth, or eyes.
Infection can also result from direct and
indirect contact with nasal or oral secretions from infected persons, such as
kissing an infected child’s face or touching a common surface (e.g., a
doorknob) on which viruses have been deposited. People infected with
RSV can spread the virus for 3 to 8 days. However, some infants and people
with weakened immune systems can spread the virus for up to 4 weeks.
Symptoms of RSV are similar to other respiratory
infections. Illness begins 4 to 6 days after being exposed to the
virus. In adults and older children, typical RSV symptoms
include a low-grade fever, congested or runny nose, cough, sore throat,
headache, fatigue, and occasionally wheezing. In children younger than age 2,
RSV can cause a lower respiratory tract illness such as bronchiolitis or
pneumonia; more severe cases can result in respiratory failure. For people
with severe illness, symptoms may include a worsening croupy cough, unusually
rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, and a bluish color of the lips or
fingernails caused by low levels of oxygen in the blood. RSV can cause middle
ear infections (otitis media) in preschool children.
The majority of children hospitalized for an
RSV infection are under the age of six months. The elderly (those 65 years of
age and older), premature infants, persons with chronic lung or heart
problems, and persons with weak immune systems are at higher risk for
developing serious illness. Those who are exposed to tobacco smoke, attend
daycare, live in crowded conditions, or have school-aged siblings could also
be at higher risk.
Treatment & Prevention
A drug called palivizumab is available to prevent severe RSV
illness in certain infants and children who are at high risk. The drug can
help prevent development of serious RSV disease, but it cannot prevent
infection with RSV or help cure or treat children already suffering from
serious RSV disease. There is no vaccine available yet to prevent RSV.
Researchers are working to develop RSV vaccines. However, there are steps that can be taken
to help prevent the spread of RSV. Covering
coughs and sneezes, practicing frequent hand washing, refraining from kissing
other people, and disinfecting surfaces may help stop the spread of RSV.
Persons with RSV illness should not share cups or eating utensils with
others, and persons with cold-like symptoms should not interact with
high-risk children. When possible, limiting the time that high-risk children
spend in child-care centers or other potentially contagious settings may help
prevent infection and spread of the virus during the RSV season.
School Exclusion Criteria
Children with a fever should be kept out of school or childcare
until they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever suppressing
medications. Rules for exclusion of sick children from school and childcare
are outlined in the Texas Administrative Code, specifically Rule 97.7 for schools and Rule 746.3603 for childcare.
RSV activity typically begins to increase in Texas in September or
October and peaks in December or January. The timing of the RSV season and
the seasonal peaks can vary by region in Texas. For surveillance reports, see
the Data link.