RS virus is a virus that causes respiratory tract infections. It is a major cause of lower respiratory tract infections and hospital visits during infancy and childhood. The symptoms are usually mild, and are often indistinguishable from those of a common cold. However, for some children, RS virus can cause bronchiolitis, leading to severe respiratory illness requiring hospitalization and, in rare cases, causing death.
Diagnosis is difficult because the initial symptoms can be similar to those caused by other infectious agents. There are no antiviral drugs to treat RS virus infections, so treatment is largely directed at the symptoms. Because the RS virus is highly contagious, rapid diagnosis and prompt treatment can have a positive effect on public health.
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