Winter Planning Toolkit modules

Module 3: Testing

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Last revised: 05 Jun 2023

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is highly contagious and generally infects a person's airways and lungs. It is spread via talking, coughing, sneezing, and through direct contact with infected surfaces. Children under two years of age are most commonly affected, although adults can also contract the virus.  Populations most at risk of severe disease are infants under six months, children with asthma or breathing problems, older people, and people with pre-existing heart, lung or immune system conditions1

Symptoms include breathing problems and lung infections such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia. It is diagnosed via PCR or a blood test screening for antibodies1

As there is currently no RSV vaccine approved for use in Australia1, infection prevention and control principles are essential, particularly hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, levels of precaution, staff screening immunisation and infection management, and disease surveillance and outbreak response. 

Laboratory confirmed RSV is a notifiable disease in Australia and must be reported via your state or territory’s reporting mechanism.  

CPD tip

The RACGP has a 1.5-hour virtual learning activity, The cough that sometimes kills: an update on RSV for GPs and paediatricians (accessible for RACGP CPD home members only).


  1. Health Direct. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Canberra, ACT: Health Direct, 2022. [Accessed 10 May 2023].
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