In industrialized countries, it is the single most important cause of severe respiratory illness in and hospitalizations of infants and young children.2 In the USA alone, from 85,000 to 144,000 infants with RSV infection are hospitalized annually, resulting in 20%-25% of pneumonia cases and up to 70% of bronchiolitis cases in the hospital.2 Global RSV disease burden is estimated at 64 million cases and 160,000 deaths every year.2
Though most RSV infections do not result in hospital admission, infections are rarely asymptomatic.3,4 Symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and fever are similar to those of other common respiratory infections. Patients presenting with these symptoms are often treated empirically with antibiotics, without a formal diagnosis.
Although there is no specific treatment for RSV, diagnosis is very important. An accurate diagnosis allows infection control measures to be implemented, and enables the physician to withhold antibiotics, which are not effective against viruses.