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Forum Name: Pediatric Topics

Question: RSV Question - Possibility of "Carrying"


 Frog_Lover - Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:45 pm

My son's step-brother (9 months old) was recently diagnosed with RSV. (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) My 6 year old son has been around him extensively before and after his diagnosis.
My son doesn't seem to be plagued with any symptoms of RSV, is in great health, no cold symptoms, not even a runny nose.
I, however, have a 3 yr old niece, a 2 yr old niece, and a 5 month old nephew, and the three of them have been spending time with my son. They have been sick, but that was before spending time with him. The baby has also been tested for RSV, but that was before the step-brother was diagnosed.
Now that you know all the facts, my question.....

Is there any possibility for my son to have no symptoms of RSV, to seem perfectly fine, and not be affected by RSV himself, to carry the disease and transfer it to my young nieces and nephew? (They have no contact with the diagnosed baby)

and

If he doesn't give it to THEM, is it possible for him to carry it to myself, and for me to carry it to them?

I just keep reading everywhere about highly contagious the disease is, but there doesn't seem to be information as to whether you have to be infected yourself to spread RSV, and I'd hate to think my young nieces and nephew could get infected.
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:24 pm

User avatar Hello Frog_Lover,

RSV is a very common infection during the winter months. In fact, I would estimate that during its peak months it accounts for probably 1/2 or more of my daily patient visits.

RSV is quite contageous but it does not really have a "carrier state". It is most easily spread by someone that is infected by it since it is spread in the secretions (mouth/nose, etc.). RSV can be a severe infection in infants. The severity of illness tends to lessen as age increases such that children by the age of 5 or so often have only a minor cold from an RSV infection.

It is possible that your son can contract the virus and be only minimally affected or even without symptoms but still spread the virus. If he doesn't actually contract the infection but gets it on his skin it could be spread for a very short period of time until the virus died (probably only a few hours or so).

Most likely if your son is healthy with no symptoms it is less likely that he will be spreading the virus. Handwashing and covering the mouth with coughing is a very effective way of reducing RSV spread since it is not spread through the air (like the flu is).

Best wishes.

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