Respiratory syncytial virus

Shmuel Shoham, M.D.


  • Negative-sense, single-strand, enveloped RNA virus.
    • There are two subtypes (A and B). The severity may be similar between the two viruses.
  • The scientific name is human orthopneumovirus.
    • The synonym is human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV), sometimes shortened to just RSV.
    • Member of the Pneumoviridae family and Orthopneumovirus genus.
  • RSV fusion protein facilitates the fusion of the viral envelope with the host cell membrane. This protein is a target for vaccines and anti-viral agents.
  • In this section, we will refer to the virus that infects humans as RSV (although human orthopneumovirus is the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses preferred term).
  • Transmission:
    • There are no animal reservoirs for this virus.
    • Spread via nasal or oral secretions, either directly via large droplets (and probably aerosolized particles) or indirectly through contact with contaminated hands and environmental surfaces (e.g., cribs, toys, doorknobs, tabletops)

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Last updated: October 13, 2023