The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning the American public this week about “increases” in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity across “some parts of the Southeastern United States.”
In an advisory issued through its Health Alert Network, the CDC said data shows nationwide the weekly percentage of active cases identified through PCR testing has remained below the season onset threshold of 3% for two consecutive weeks.
However, the data is also showing “PCR positivity above 3.0% in Florida beginning in the week ending July 22, 2023, and the 3-week moving average of PCR positivity has been greater than 5.0% for the past 4 weeks,” according to the CDC.
“In Georgia, CDC has also observed an increase in rates of RSV-associated hospitalizations reported to RSV-NET, a population-based surveillance system,” it added. “Among children ages <4 years, RSV-associated hospitalization rates increased from 2.0 hospitalizations per 100,000 population for the week ending August 5, 2023, to 7.0 hospitalizations per 100,000 population for the week ending August 19, 2023, with the majority occurring among infants ages <1 year.”
The CDC describes RSV as a “common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms,” but it can be “serious” and result in hospitalizations for infants and older adults.
“CDC estimates that every year RSV causes approximately 58,000–80,000 hospitalizations and 100–300 deaths in children ages <5 years, as well as 60,000–160,000 hospitalizations and 6,000–10,000 deaths among adults ages 65 years and older,” it also said.
The RSV season typically starts in the fall and peaks during winter; however, in recent years, the pattern has been upended due to public health measures implemented during the coronavirus pandemic, health officials say.
To help protect against its spread, the CDC says “monoclonal antibody products” are available for infants and some young children, while “two new vaccines are available to protect older adults from severe RSV disease.”
RSV, according to the CDC, is primarily transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected individual coughs or sneezes or if someone comes into direct contact with a contaminated surface.