Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common, contagious virus that causes infections of the respiratory tract. It is a negative-sense, single-stranded RNA virus. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. Most people recover from RSV in a week or two, but it can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.
The scientific name for this viral species is Human orthopneumovirus. This is synonymous with Human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV), which is often shortened to just RSV. It belongs to the genus Orthopneumovirus, family Pneumoviridae, order Mononegavirales.
An example of how RSV can be contracted is when an infected person coughs or sneezes and droplets containing the virus are spread into the air. The virus can then enter the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth.