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RSV is very contagious. It is transmitted through direct contact with nasal droplets from a person who is infected. RSV also can stay on environmental surfaces, such as doorknobs, toys, and hands, for several hours. This means it can easily be spread in school classrooms and daycare centers and brought home to other children who live there. The time between when a person is infected and when they have symptoms is about 4 to 6 days.

Because RSV does not give protection from future infections, people can get RSV many times—even during a single season. The first infection is usually the most severe. After that, any infections generally have milder symptoms.

Last Updated December 01, 2008