GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Experts say recently-approved treatments can protect infants and adults from respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV.

“RSV is a very common respiratory virus that circulates through the country,” said Dr. Rosemary Olivero with Corewell Health.

Olivero told News 8 the virus typically peaks for about five months in Michigan, starting around November or December and ending around March or April.

For infants, RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization in the United States, according to Olivero.

“The reason why children and babies in particular can get so ill from RSV is all about the size of their airways,” she said.

Olivero said the immune system responds strongly to RSV, with inflammation and mucus production in the lungs.

“In very little airways, all that mucus and inflammatory can actually occlude the airways,” she said. “And so our youngest babies, who have the smallest lower airways, can get very, very sick.”

To protect infants from RSV, Olivero said there is a new monoclonal antibody that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, although it is still awaiting the endorsement of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“(The monoclonal antibody) is basically an injection that provides the antibody directly to the baby’s body,” she said. “Similar to those who receive a vaccine, the disease severity is much less.”

But with the monoclonal antibody, antibody levels will drop after several months and protection will fade, according to Olivero.

“The important distinction is that it’s not a vaccine,” she said. “You haven’t taught your immune system to create its own antibodies against RSV.”

Although RSV can be especially dangerous for infants, it can be dangerous for adults, too.

“There are certain groups of individuals who are at higher risk for severe disease, hospitalization and even death due to RSV,” Olivero said.

She listed the elderly, those with chronic heart and lung disease and those with compromised immune systems as at-risk groups.

To prevent RSV in adults, Olivero told News 8 two new vaccines — made by different manufacturers but using similar technology — have been approved by the FDA this year.

Since the vaccines and the monoclonal antibody have been approved by the FDA, the next steps are largely logistical, Olivero said.

“The process is now being lined up so that we can get the product and figure out the cost, availability, when exactly to give it, who exactly to give it to,” she said. “So it is complicated, but we do hope that since it is only August, that by the time October, November roll around, we’ll be able to provide these preventatives to both infants as well as those adults who qualify.”