Respiratory syncytial virus epidemics: the ups and downs of a seasonal virus

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Respiratorysyncytial virus (RSV) is the most common pathogen causing lower respiratory tract infections in infants worldwide. Lower respiratory tract infections caused by RSV occur epidemically, and the appearance of epidemics seems to vary with latitude, altitude and climate. This study uses a review of the literature on RSV seasonality to investigate whether a global pattern in RSV epidemics can be found. A comparison of morbidity and mortality caused by RSV in developed vs. developing countries is also presented.The seasons in which RSV epidemics occur typically depend on geographic location and altitude. During these seasons the epidemics tend to appear in clusters. Although the appearance pattern of these epidemics varies from one continent to another, they usually begin in coastal areas.RSV is the cause of one-fifth of lower respiratory infections worldwide. Generally RSV mortality is low, with a median value of zero. However, RSV mortality in developing countries is significantly higher than RSV mortality in developed countries.

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