RSV surging early, filling up hospitals

RSV respiratory syncytial virus

Some hospitals are running out of beds as respiratory syncytial virus, the flu, and COVID-19 cases start coming in with the cooler weather.

Doctors typically expect RSV to start surging in late November and start tapering off in January. So far, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection showed that the hospitalization rate for RSV peaked at 3.4 per 100,000 people the week ending Oct. 30. It was down to 3.0 by Nov. 5.

Last season during the same week it was at 1.1 per 100,000 people, peaking at 1.3 per 100,000 in early December. The last season without COVID-19 restrictions 2019-2020, peaked at 2.7 per 100,000 in January.

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Why are RSV hospitalizations surging? Dr. William Schaffner from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine said he and others believe the rise is because children were not exposed to RSV during the pandemic.

Typically children are exposed to RSV before they are two years old, but with isolation, many children are just now being exposed. Most children can recover quickly, just like from a cold, but RSV can cause things like bronchitis and pneumonia. Right now, most people being hospitalized with RSV are children. The virus tends to affect children more because their airways are smaller and can get more easily clogged.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2022, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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