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.

How should an RSV infection be treated?

DID YOU KNOW? The RSV infection is caused by a virus. Antibiotics which fight against bacteria are therefore of absolutely no use.

In case of an uncomplicated RSV infection, the patient  spontaneously recovers between 2 and 8 days after the onset of the symptoms.The purpose of the treatment is therefore only to relieve the symptoms (blocked nose, dry cough, temperature etc.).

In the case of infants, certain procedures can relieve the symptoms:

  • regular cleaning of the nose
  • frequent liquids
  • split up meals
  • aerate bedrooms regularly
  • avoid exposure to tobacco smoke.

A humidifier can also help an infant to breathe more easily. If you use such a device, clean it regularly.

Treatment of severe infections in infants

The doctor may recommend the use of an aerosol and sessions of physiotherapy to release secretions accumulated in the bronchi. The infant’s nose should be regularly cleaned with saline.

In the case of a severe RSV infection in an infant, hospitalisation may prove necessary for rehydration (intravenous infusion) and to help breathing.

Antiviral treatment 

Antiviral treatment can be administered in the form of an aerosol for inhalation. However, it has not been proved that aerosol antiviral treatment has any effect on bronchiolitis in children (an infection of the smallest airways).


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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