The CDC is alerting doctors to rising cases of RSV infection among children and infants. Here’s what you need to know – NBC 6 South Florida

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerted doctors on Tuesday about a High incidence of severe RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, among young children in Florida and Georgia.

In its warning, regional increases typically predicted the start of the national RSV season, “with increased RSV activity spreading north and west over the next two to three months.”

The late-summer increase appears to indicate that RSV is again falling into a typical seasonal pattern after several years of unusually early viral activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Aug. 5 to Aug. 19, the rate of RSV-related hospitalizations rose from two per 100,000 children ages four and younger to seven per 100,000, the CDC reported. The majority of these hospitalizations were for children under the age of one year.

Each year, respiratory syncytial virus infection causes about 2 million doctor visits, 80,000 hospitalizations, and up to 300 deaths among children under age 5, according to the CDC.

Here’s everything you need to know about RSV and how to keep young children safe:

What is RSV?

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

For most people, recovery may take about a week or two, but RSV can be especially dangerous for infants and older adults who develop more serious symptoms.

In these cases, hospitalization may be necessary.

What are the symptoms of RSV?

The CDC says that people infected with RSV usually develop symptoms within four to six days after infection. Symptoms of RSV infection usually include:

  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Coughing
  • sneeze
  • Fever
  • Whistling

These symptoms usually appear in stages rather than all at once. In very young infants infected with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties.

Almost all children will have RSV infection by their second birthday.

How is RSV transmitted?

According to the CDC, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can spread when:

  • The infected person coughs or sneezes
  • You catch virus droplets from a cough or sneeze into your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • You have direct contact with the virus, such as kissing the face of a child infected with RSV
  • You touch a surface with the virus on it, such as a doorknob, and then your face before washing your hands

A person infected with RSV is usually contagious for three to eight years, and may be contagious for a day or two before signs of illness begin to appear.

However, some infants and people with weakened immune systems can continue to spread the virus even after symptoms have stopped, for up to four weeks.

The CDC says children are often exposed to and infected with respiratory syncytial virus outside of the home, such as in schools or child care centers, and can then spread the virus to other family members.

Is there a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus?

Vaccines are available to protect older adults from severe RSV infection. Monoclonal antibody products are available to protect infants and young children from severe RSV.

U.S. health officials recommend that infants receive a recently approved drug to protect them from respiratory syncytial virus

RSV infection is a common cold-like nuisance for most healthy people, but it can be life-threatening for the very young and the elderly.

The drug, developed by AstraZeneca and Sanofi, is expected to be ready in the fall before the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) season, usually from November to March.

A panel of outside advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended one-time injections for infants born before or during the RSV season and for those younger than 8 months of age before the season begins.

They also recommended a dose for certain children ages 8 to 19 months who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from respiratory syncytial virus.

The Food and Drug Administration also recently approved a vaccine from Pfizer that protects infants from the virus.

Pfizer’s RSV vaccine has already been approved and available in the United States for seniors.

It is now the second treatment approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of RSV in infants and the first vaccine. It uses maternal immunization, which refers to vaccinating pregnant mothers so that they can pass protective antibodies to their fetuses.

(tags for translation) CDC

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