What are the risk factors for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Risk factors for RSV infection include age younger than six months, underlying lung disease (bronchopulmonary dysplasia or cystic fibrosis), and congenital heart disease in children with asthma. Institutionalized elderly and immunosuppressed patients (eg, those with severe combined immunodeficiency, leukemia, and/or transplant) are also at risk.

RSV infections in adults are poorly characterized and rarely diagnosed. They are accompanied by long-lasting upper respiratory tract infections and are more commonly associated with a prolonged productive or bronchitic cough and wheezing than with other features. The findings tend to mimic the decompensated underlying cardiopulmonary disease rather than the acute viral disease.

Various studies reported RSV pneumonia in recipients of solid organ transplants or HSCTs. The clinical manifestations are usually severe, and supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilation are required.

Severe cases of RSV giant-cell pneumonia have been reported in 4-10% of cases and also during concurrent viral infections with EBV, CMV, or adenovirus.

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