(WXYZ) — CDC data shows that RSV hospitalizations have now reached peak levels not typically seen until late December. The respiratory virus has been spreading quickly and hitting all ages, but young children so far, are the most affected group.
RSV season is not starting off very well. 77% of pediatric hospital beds and 80% of pediatric ICU beds are currently in use nationwide, that’s according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
As for the CDC, the latest data tells us that nearly four out of 1,000 infants 6 months and under, and more than two out of 1,000 infants 6 months to one year have been hospitalized this season because of RSV.
And the season is just getting started. Looking at October’s weekly case counts, more cases were detected each week during that month than any other week in the last two years. And for the week ending October 22nd, cases were more than double than any other week during the years 2020 and 2021.
So that shows just how fast RSV has been spreading in our communities. And the total numbers are likely much, much higher because not every hospital and laboratory participates in the surveillance program.
Unfortunately, RSV often hits our youngest ones the hardest. In fact, in infants, RSV is the leading cause of bronchiolitis - which is inflammation of the lung’s small airway. And the reason why is because their airways are not wide enough yet, and the inflammation that develops can restrict airflow. Premature babies are especially high risk because their lungs are underdeveloped. And other high-risk children include those with weakened immune systems, congenital heart disease, lung disease, or a neuromuscular disorder.
If your think your child is high risk, I would suggest you talk to your family doctor about the drug palivizumab. It’s a monoclonal antibody that can help protect children by giving them antibodies to help protect against RSV infection.
But for most people, RSV causes mild symptoms. It’s usually just another annoying cold and we get over it pretty quickly. Having said that, if anyone has difficulty breathing, they need medical attention right away. And if your child is under six months, head straight to the ER if they also are unresponsive, lethargic, have a high fever, are dehydrated, and have shallow or rapid breathing.