Skip to main content

Children’s Health Ireland - Important advice about RSV

Children’s Health Ireland - Important advice about RSV

Nov. 10, 2023

All CHI locations


Children’s Health Ireland have seen an increase in patients presenting to our Emergency Departments and being admitted to hospital with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) in the last week. As a result, CHI Emergency Departments in Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght are now extremely busy, and we regret that children with less serious illnesses may experience long waiting times.

This increase in cases of seasonal RSV is to be expected at this time of year. Most cases are mild and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks without treatment. However, RSV can make small infants very sick. Parents are advised to trust their instinct, and to always contact their GP or come to the Emergency Department if they are worried, especially if the symptoms get worse quickly.

Dr Paddy Fitzpatrick is Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine in CHI, and explains that there are things that parents and caregivers can do to help curb the spread and keep infants safe:

“While seasonal RSV is circulating at a high level, my advice to people looking after very small infants, under 3 months in particular, is to try to cocoon them and avoid having them in large crowds. It is also so important that when we are sick ourselves or have children who are sick that we keep away from other children where possible. I understand it’s tough for parents who are working, but it’s also vital that children with cold or flu like illnesses don’t go to crèche or school until they are feeling better to try to avoid spreading these viruses.

About RSV:

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a common virus that causes coughs and colds. It is the main cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in very young children. It’s not a new virus. Almost all children get RSV by the time they are 2 years old. It usually spreads in winter and early spring. Most symptoms of RSV are mild, such as a runny nose, coughing and sneezing. People usually recover within 2 to 3 weeks without treatment or the need to see a GP.

RSV symptoms:

Symptoms of an RSV infection start like a cold and can include:

  • cough
  • wheezing
  • runny nose
  • difficulty feeding or decreased appetite
  • fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • sore throat

These symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once.


After 4 to 5 days, babies and young children can develop bronchiolitis. Their symptoms may get worse and include:

  • increased breathing (more breaths per minute)
  • wheezing
  • difficulty feeding or decreased appetite
  • less wet nappies

These symptoms often remain for 3 to 4 days before slowly getting better. It can usually take 10 to 14 days before babies and young children recover from an RSV infection. Many babies and children may have a cough that lasts for weeks after the start of the infection. This does not need antibiotics.

When to get medical help

You can usually treat RSV symptoms at home without needing to see a GP.

But trust your instincts. Bring your child to your GP if you are worried about them or their symptoms worsen.

RSV vaccination

RSV vaccination will likely have a significant impact on reducing the burden of RSV illness in children and protecting small babies from serious infection. Two new safe and effective vaccines have been developed but are not yet available in Ireland.

Useful Information:

Out of hours GP services

Colds, coughs and viral infections in children

Share this page