Making a Difference

Rallying Against RSV to Help Protect All Infants

During RSV Awareness Month, Dr. Chris Rizzo, Senior U.S. Medical Director, explains the importance of raising awareness about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and how to help protect all infants from this highly contagious virus.

By: Dr. Chris Rizzo, Senior U.S. Medical Director, Sanofi Pasteur

Seeing infants suffer from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) during my pediatric residency at a hospital in Northeast Ohio is an experience that will be forever etched in my mind.

A highly contagious virus that causes cold-like symptoms, RSV often progresses to an RSV-related lower respiratory tract infection, like bronchiolitis and pneumonia, making it the leading cause of hospitalization in infants under 12 months.1 RSV is also unpredictable — any infant can be hospitalized in their first season.2

All too often while working in the hospital, I watched as infants with RSV struggled to eat, sleep, and breathe, while their parents faced fear, uncertainty and a feeling of helplessness. I saw parents pleading with doctors to give their children interventions like IV-administered antibiotics — which do not work against RSV because it’s a virus.

More than 30 years into my career as a pediatrician focused on infectious disease, my memories of RSV’s impact continue to drive my passion for rethinking RSV. Today, there are limited options to help address RSV. Prevention is restricted and available for a very limited number of infants, and treatment is largely limited to supportive care.

The current RSV surge reinforces the importance of and need for ongoing research and data generation that could lead to new clinical practices and preventative options to help protect all infants. This National RSV Awareness Month, it is critical that until we have an approved preventative option for infants, that we continue to support healthcare professionals in helping inform and educate caregivers and families about the steps they can take to help protect all infants against RSV.

These steps include:

  • Recognizing the symptoms of RSV that can include runny nose, coughing, sneezing, decrease in appetite and wheezing, among others
  • Practicing frequent hand washing
  • Disinfecting of surfaces and toys
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are ill, and
  • If you have cold-like symptoms, avoiding kissing and touching babies with unwashed hands, as well as sharing utensils.

We are working with HCPs to help them continue to assist in raising awareness about the need to rethink RSV to help protect all infants from this highly contagious virus.

To learn more if you are a caregiver or family member, talk to your doctor and visit

It's time to speak out

  1. According to a study of pediatric hospitalizations between 1997 and 2000.
  2. Surveillance data between October 2014 and April 2015. Among 1,176 RSV-hospitalized infants aged 12 months or under, 851 had no reported underlying condition (prematurity was classified as an underlying condition in the study).