Experts say RSV may increase risks for senior citizens

“Our seniors are particularly susceptible and vulnerable because, in Philippine culture, they often live with family members who also serve as their caregivers. These family members may unknowingly contract RSV at work or elsewhere and bring it home to their senior relatives. Within the household, symptoms might be dismissed as just the flu, not realizing that what’s circulating is RSV, which can be fatal for seniors.” says Dr. Solante.

RSV imposes a greater burden and necessitates extensive aftercare for seniors

Dr. Lourdes Dumlao, President of the Philippine College of Geriatric Medicine, observes that RSV is often depicted as a pediatric illness 11 on social media because children, like seniors, have weak immune systems, making them vulnerable.

However, she emphasizes that RSV presents a greater burden on seniors. 12 Dr. Dumlao explains, “Studies have shown that the incidence of hospitalizations and mortality due to RSV is substantially higher in seniors than in children. 13 Seniors with certain underlying conditions such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure (CHF), asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at higher risk of hospitalization when infected with RSV. 14 Additionally, RSV can cause various severe respiratory complications in older adults, including arrest and failure, respiratory distress, and emphysema. 15 Further, about 30% of older adults may develop heart complications when hospitalized with RSV.” 16

Dr. Lenora C. Fernandez, head of Pulmonary Services at Asian Hospital and Medical Center and former President of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians, highlights the extensive aftercare needed by RSV patients even after hospital discharge, stressing the burden this imposes not only on the patients themselves but also on their families.

Dr. Fernandez says, “One out of four RSV patients (24.5%) may require professional home care after hospital discharge. 17 Additionally, up to one out of four (26.6%) of these patients are readmitted within three months post-discharge, 17 and even more concerning, three out of ten (33%) may die from complications related to RSV within a year of their initial admission.” 18

11 Emily Halnon (2023). Health Central. Myths and Facts About Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Retrieved from:
12 Clevaland Clinic. RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). Is RSV deadly? Retrieved from:
13 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), 2023. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Retrieved from:
14 National Library of Medicine. (La et al., 2024). Respiratory syncytial virus knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions among adults in the United States. Retrieved from:
15 Maggi et al. Vaccines 2022, 10(12), 2092. Retrieved from:
16 Falsey et al. 2018. Respiratory syncytial virus–associated illness in adults with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or congestive heart failure.
Retrieved from:
17 Falsey AR et al. Open Forum Infect Dis 2021;8:11, ofab491