Practicing Medicine RSV Toolkit RSV Patient Education

RSV Patient Education

focus on prevention

Arm patients with tools for RSV prevention

The following patient education resources will help you enable patients to curb spread of the virus.

Last updated: October 2023

Frontline physicians play a critical role in helping prevent the spread of RSV. Ensuring your patients are properly educated on actions they can take to protect themselves and their families is an important first step. If patients are experiencing cold-like symptoms, encourage them to take the following actions:

  • Cover all coughs and sneezes with a tissue or upper shirt sleeve or elbow area, avoiding use of hands.
  • Dispose of used tissues after use.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizers to use when soap and water are not immediately available.
  • Avoid close contact with others, such as kissing, shaking hands and sharing drinking cups and eating utensils.
  • Carry disinfectant wipes and clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices.
  • If avoiding contact or interactions with those who are symptomatic is not possible, advise patients to carefully follow the prevention steps mentioned above and wash their hands before interacting with symptomatic individuals. Patients should also refrain from kissing high risk children while they have cold-like symptoms.
  • For patients 60 years of age or older, a new RSV vaccine is now available. Encourage patients in this age group to receive this vaccination as a prevention measure.
  • Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations released in August 2023 approved vaccinating infants aged less than 8 months born during or entering their first RSV season with one dose of nirsevimab (50 mg for infants less than 5 kg and 100 mg for infants equal to or greater than 5 kg).
  • ACIP also approved that children aged 8-19 months who are at increased risk of severe RSV disease and entering their second RSV season are recommended to receive one dose of nirsevimab (200mg).

Children at high risk

For children at high risk for developing severe RSV disease, it is advised that parents help their child, when possible, adhere to the following actions:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching face with unwashed hands.
  • Limit the time spent in childcare centers or other potentially contagious settings during periods of high RSV activity. This may help prevent infection and spread of the virus during the RSV season.

Identifying symptoms

Symptoms typically appear at various stages and 4 – 6 days after RSV infection:

  • Runny nose
  • Decreased appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Decreased activity (infants)
  • Irritability (infants)

Relieving symptoms

  • Manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (never give aspirin to children).
  • Drink enough fluid. People with RSV infection need to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider before giving a child nonprescription cold medicine. Some medicines contain ingredients that are not suitable for children and could pose risks.
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