NewsWhat is respiratory syncytial virus and why is it...

What is respiratory syncytial virus and why is it rebounding in the United States?

Several children’s hospitals in the United States are seeing an increase in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, which causes a common respiratory illness but can be serious for babies.

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during the week of October 15 there was a 15% increase in positive RSV tests, which is high for this time of year, they point out. specialist.

“That doesn’t reflect the last couple of weeks,” Dr. Kristin Moffitt, an infectious disease physician at Boston Children’s Hospital, told US Today. “Most hospitals, their microbiology labs are seeing a positivity rate of between 20% and 30%.”

Doctors in the United States prepare to see how RSV, influenza and covid-18 can combine to increase the pressure on hospitals

“I qualify it as an emergency,” Dr. Juan Salazar, from Connecticut Children’s Hospital, told the AP agency.

What is respiratory syncytial virus?

Respiratory syncytial virus causes infections in the lungs and respiratory tract. It is so common that most children have already been infected with the virus by the time they are two years old. Adults can also be infected.

Symptoms and how it is transmitted

Symptoms of the disease most often appear four to six days after exposure to the virus. In adults and older children, RSV causes symptoms and signs much like a cold. Some of the symptoms are as follows:

•stuffy or runny nose
•cough be
•low fever
•sore throat• sneezing

In more severe cases when the virus spreads to the lower respiratory tract and causes pneumonia or bronchitis, symptoms and signs may include:

•intense cough
•wheezing or a high-pitched or audible sound when you exhale usually
•fast breathing or shortness of breath, the person may prefer to sit up rather than lie down.
• bluish color in the skin due to lack of oxygen.

For babies with a severe infection, symptoms may include:

•shallow, short, rapid breathing
•great shortness of breath, the muscles and skin of the chest pull in with each breath
•eats badly
•unusual tiredness

The virus enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. It is easily transmitted through the air in infected respiratory droplets. The disease can be spread if someone with the virus coughs or sneezes. It is also spread through direct contact such as shaking hands.

In general, people with a respiratory syncytial virus infection are contagious for three to eight days. But sometimes babies and people with weakened immune systems can continue to shed the virus for 4 weeks.

Who is most vulnerable to RSV?

RSV can cause a serious infection in some people, including babies 12 months and younger, especially premature babies, and older adults, people with heart and lung disease, or anyone with a weak immune system.

Why are RSV cases increasing?

The typical season of infections of this disease runs from November to March, but according to health specialists, the virus is appearing earlier this year, as it is the first time in two years that measures to prevent cases are not applied. of covid-19.

The virus is finding a highly vulnerable population of infants and children who were sheltered from common viruses during pandemic lockdowns.

Immune systems may not be as ready to fight off the virus after more than two years of protection from masks, Dr. Elizabeth Mack of the Medical University of South Carolina told the AP.

Is there a vaccine or treatment?

There is no vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus. The drug palinizumab , given as an injection, can help protect certain infants and children 2 years and younger who are at risk of serious complications from the virus.

The first injection is given at the beginning of the RSV season, with monthly injections given throughout the season.

There is no specific treatment for respiratory syncytial virus infection. Most infections go away on their own in a week or two. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with fever and pain.

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