In observance of Cesar Chavez Day, City offices will be closed Friday, March 31, 2023.

Public Health


What is RSV?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the leading cause of hospitalization in babies under age 1.

RSV is a highly contagious virus that can lead to respiratory illness in babies, including lung infections such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia.*

RSV infections can go from mild symptoms to hospitalization in less than a week.

Mild symptoms may include a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing, while severe symptoms can include wheezing and difficulty breathing.

* Bronchiolitis (bron-key-oh-lie-tis) is a viral infection in the smallest airways (bronchioles) in your lungs. When the bronchioles swell and become inflamed, mucus may build up, leading to congestion and difficulty breathing.

*Pneumonia (noo-mohn-yuh) is a lung infection that can cause mild to severe coughing, fever, and trouble breathing.


Health Advisory

HEALTH ALERT - Respiratory Viral Infections Affecting Children Causing Strain in Healthcare System Capacity
Early Increase in Respiratory Virus Activity Among Pediatric Population in 2022-2023 Fall and Winter

Signs & Symptoms

RSV can often mimic a cold or the flu. But as the infection becomes more severe so do the symptoms. Keep a close eye on your baby if you notice any of the following:

  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Congestion

In babies under 6 months, the only RSV symptoms they may show are irritability, decreased activity, decreased appetite, and difficulty breathing.

RSV Fast Facts

  • RSV is most common during the winter virus season (November – March) but can vary by local areas.
  • RSV spreads when droplets from a cough, sneeze, or infected surface get inside the eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • 2 out of 3 babies will get RSV by age 1.
  • RSV can go from cold-like symptoms to hospitalization in less than a week.
  • Though hospitalization happens in only 1%-2% of RSV cases, it’s not predictable which baby will be hospitalized.
  • Babies are 16x more likely to be hospitalized with RSV than with the flu.

When To Contact A Doctor

If you notice any of the following in your baby, contact their doctor right away:

Short, shallow, and abnormally fast breathing: Look for chest wall retractions. Think of chest wall retractions as a “caving in” of the chest in between and under the ribs.

  • Your baby has a wheezing cough.
  • Nasal flaring: When your baby’s nostrils spread out with every breath.
  • Your baby is unusually tired or has a blue tint to their lips or fingernails.
  • Your baby has poor feeding.
  • Your baby has a fever:
    • 100.4° F / 38°C or higher for a baby younger than 3 months.
    • 102.2°F / 39°C or higher for a baby older than 3 months.

Help Protect Your Baby

RSV spreads incredibly easily. Talk with your family and friends about practicing the following healthy habits to help protect your baby from RSV:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces, including your baby’s toys.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, avoid kissing or touching your baby.
  • Cover your face when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid sharing utensils if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Symptom Tracker

RSV is unpredictable and all babies are at risk.

We created a guide with information from the CDC to help you understand what your baby might experience as RSV progresses.

Days 1-2

What may be happening:

  • Baby inhales droplets containing RSV

Symptoms can include:

  • No Symptoms

Days 3-5

What may be happening:

  • RSV damages cells in the ear, nose, and throat

Symptoms can include:

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite

Days 6-8

What may be happening:

  • RSV infects cells deep in the lung

Symptoms can include:

  • Cough
  • Rapid breathing
  • Wheezing and/or grunting noises
  • Nasal flaring
  • Abnormal chest movement when breathing