Respiratory Syncytial Virus: Introduction, Pathogenicity, Lab Diagnosis, and Treatment

Universal Transport Medum for Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Introduction of Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that normally causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most of the sufferers recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious,  particularly for infants and older adults. Some features of this virus are-

  • belongs to the family Paramyxoviridae
  • Enveloped RNA virus
  • Pleomorphic with helical capsid symmetry
  • 90-130 nm in size

Transmission and pathogenicity of RSV

Person to person transmission  is mainly by droplet infection. It can also  spread direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV and touching a surface that has the virus on it, like a doorknob, and then touch. Disease-Server bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants and small children. Othe clinical condition are  upper respiratory tract infection and otitis media as a complication in young children.

Symptoms of RSV

The expression of  symptoms  only comes within 4 to 6 days after getting infected.  The symptoms of this  infection usually include-

  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

Laboratory Diagnosis of Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Specimen: The following specimens are appropriate –

  1. Throat swab
  2. Nasal swab
  3. Nasopharyngeal aspirate

Transport medium: Collect specimen into viral transport medium and frozen immediately at -70 °C.

Serological assays-

  • Direct demonstration of antigen
  • Direct immunofluorescence test
  • Immunoperoxidase test

Nucleic acid and technology: PCR

Culture : Isolation of the virus from nasopharyngeal aspiration is difficult because it remains an infection only for short time.

Tissue  culture: Hep-2 cell lines, HeLa cells

Cytopathic effect on the cell: Infected cells joined together  thus called syncytia

Inclusion bodies may be present.


Most infections go away on their own within 7-14 days and there is no specific treatment for infection. Vaccine: No effective vaccine available so far against this virus hough researchers are working to develop vaccines. It is beleived that breastfeeding provides some protection to infants.

Keynotes on RSV

  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
  • Bronchitis is an inflammation of the small airways in the lung.
  • Coughs and sneezes should be covered with a tissue or upper shirt sleeve, but  not hands.

Further Reading

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