Once a person contracts RSV, they will become symptomatic within a week, as per UC Health. They will then remain contagious — meaning they can spread the virus to other people — for around three to eight days in most cases. However, in certain individuals, such as young children or those with a comprised immune system, RSV can spread to others for as long as they remain symptomatic — this means the virus could be contagious for up to a month.
Being around someone who is actively contagious with RSV doesn’t automatically guarantee that they will pass the virus on to you. Yale Medicine explains that there are ways you can avoid catching the virus. First and foremost, you should regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after you are in contact with an infected individual. You can also disinfect the surfaces of your home (especially the areas most frequently touched) if a family member has contracted the disease, taking care to do so frequently. Wearing a mask is one more way to prevent infection. High-risk individuals can also procure a monthly dose of a medication, known as palivizumab, that prevents serious complications in the case of infection. Lastly, you’ll want to avoid kissing or sharing food with anyone showing symptoms of RSV.