High-risk groups

RSV, the “respiratory syncytial virus”, is the virus at the origin of a very common respiratory infection in infants; however, it can occur at any age.  


Infants make up the largest at-risk population. Most children suffer their first episode of RSV infection during their first year. Almost all children have been infected once before the age of 2.

Furthermore, 1% to 3% of children with an RSV infection have to be hospitalised because of serious respiratory symptoms.

Some children are more exposed to the risk of severe infections and reinfections: 

  • infants less than a year old 
  • premature infants
  • children suffering from cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

Adults and elderly people

In elderly people RSV is recognised as one of the most significant causes of respiratory illnesses.

Certain adults are also more exposed to the risk of severe forms of the infection and to reinfections:

  • persons with a weakened immune system (immunocompromised).
  • persons with pulmonary problems 
  • persons with cardiovascular problems.

Healthcare personnel

Healthcare personnel in contact with at-risk populations are exposed to the risk of catching the virus and of transmitting it, particularly in certain services: 

  • paediatrics, maternity
  • respiratory physiotherapy
  • pulmonology
  • geriatrics
  • or in institutions such as crèches and nursing homes. 


Sciensano centralises and analyses all data provided by the different partners (network of sentinel laboratories and the National Reference Centre) and in this way is able to follow up the evolution of RSV infections.


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