Nosocomial respiratory syncytial virus infections: the "Cold War" has not ended

Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Aug;31(2):590-6. doi: 10.1086/313960. Epub 2000 Sep 14.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major nosocomial hazard on pediatric wards during its annual outbreaks. It produces significant morbidity in young children and is most severe in those with underlying conditions, especially cardiopulmonary and immunosuppressive diseases. In older patients, RSV may exacerbate an underlying condition or pulmonary and cardiac manifestations. On transplant units, of RSV may be occult and is associated with high mortality rates. The manifestations of nosocomial RSV infections may be atypical, especially in neonates and immunosuppressed patients, resulting in delayed or missed diagnosis and adding appreciably to the costs of hospitalization. RSV is primarily spread by close contact with infectious secretions, either by large-particle aerosols or by fomites and subsequent self-inoculation, and medical staff are often instrumental in its transmission. Thus, integral to any infection control program is the education of personnel about the modes of transmission, the manifestations, and the importance of RSV nosocomial infections. Hand washing is probably the most important infection control procedure. The choice of barrier controls should be decided by individual institutions depending on the patients, the type of ward, and the benefit relative to cost.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross Infection* / prevention & control
  • Cross Infection* / virology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infection Control
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections* / transmission
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections* / virology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human* / physiology