WHO Global Respiratory Syncytial Virus Surveillance

Smiling baby in Brazil
WHO/Anna Kari

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a leading cause of hospitalization due to acute lower respiratory infection especially in infants and young children. Currently available options (Palivizumab) for preventing and treating RSV are limited to select populations in high-resource settings. Fortunately, several vaccine candidates are now in the human testing phase targeting young children, older adults and pregnant women, and an effective safe vaccine is likely to be available in the near future.

Several countries test for RSV as part of influenza and other respiratory virus surveillance. One of the challenges has been the use of a standardized surveillance case definition that would allow capture of RSV infection especially in infants and young children.

The WHO Global Influenza Programme with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is piloting a RSV Surveillance strategy based on the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) in 14 countries in order to develop an evidence-base for informing RSV vaccination policy. The Pilot is supported by 3 RSV Reference Laboratories and the International Reagent Resource (IRR) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA.