Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) isn’t as harmful to most adults as it is to children, the elderly to people who have chronic lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To everyone else, it just comes on like a regular cold virus, with a cough, runny nose, fever, earache and a mild sore throat. They just need to rest and drink plenty of fluids and they should feel better in about a week or less.
Babies, small children, the elderly and people with chronic lung conditions will be hit much harder and will likely turn into pneumonia. It’s always a good idea to go straight to the doctor if you or someone in one of these groups is showing signs of a cold like this, just to play it safe. In someone with asthma or COPD, this can be very dangerous, just because it will bring on an asthma attack or an exacerbation. COPD exacerbations make COPD worse and decrease lung function even more.
In the elderly alone, RSV is known to cause 100,000 deaths worldwide each year. The virus is much like the measles and mumps viruses, in the way it acts as a parasite on healthy cells, takes parts of the healthy cell membranes and attach themselves to our cells. Because of this complex attack on healthy cells, scientists had to take a different angle than the flu shot and pneumonia shot, but they were able to look at the models from the measles and mumps vaccinations.
Thankfully, experts are closer to created the vaccine that will completely prevent this disease. Soon, at risk groups will be able to get a shot for it, just like the flu and pneumonia vaccines. The study and creation of the RSV vaccine is taking place at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Finland and ETH Zurich in Switzerland.
There is no word on how long the vaccine will work and how often one would need to get the shot. Since the virus works the way measles and mumps do, the vaccine might be similarly distributed. With an MMR (Measles Mumps and Rubella) shot, they are received as a baby and again as a child. Some people do not develop an immunity after a first dose, that is why another shot is given later on. The shots for RSV might be like this as well, but they could even be like the flu vaccine because of the symptoms and overall severity of the virus.
Until this vaccine is perfected and released to the public, you will need to continue to protect yourself against getting sick, especially during cold and flu season when these and RSV are more prevalent. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing, so the best thing you can do is wash your hands and clean commonly touched surfaces in your home with rubbing alcohol. Take zinc and vitamin C to help give your immune system of a boost.