Recently, a wave of a viral infection that typically spreads during the colder months of the year appeared among infants. Most of them were hospitalized after their parents complained about breathing problems and coughing. The virus of concern is the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) that can cause severe infections in infants and older adults.
Over the past year, the rate of spread of this infection slowed down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the families spent their time indoors and avoided contact with others in the community. Meanwhile, many states began to ease coronavirus restrictions which led to a surge of the RSV.
Dr. Kate Dutkiewicz, the medical director from the Beacon Children’s Hospital, Indiana, said that this is the first time that she witnessed something like this virus wave. She recently treated two infants in the hospital suffering from this viral infection. According to Dr. Dutkiewicz, this infection never spreads in June or July and, this is the first time she saw this happening.
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As the cases of RSV spread across the US, a new health advisory came forward from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Every year, this viral infection causes 2 million children to visit the doctor with 58,000 hospitalizations. Not only that, but the RSV virus is also responsible for nearly 500 deaths in the US every year.
This virus not only infects infants but the elderly as well. It can lead to severe pneumonia among people older than 65 years of age. Among these adults, RSV causes nearly 180,000 hospitalizations every year with 14,000 deaths. Mostly, these cases appear during fall and spring, in the colder months of the year.
Dr. Larry Kociolek, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Lurie Children’s Hospital Chicago said that this off-season surge of the virus appeared in Australia as well. Many experts speculated that this wave may hit the US any time soon. According to Kociolek, most infants contract the virus in the first year of their life. Often their older siblings are the carriers of the virus and transmit it to the younger children. In the past one a half years, the cases of RSV dropped dramatically. It means that there are numerous infants at the risk of contracting this virus now.
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Generally, the symptoms that appear in the infected infants include loss of appetite, fussiness, lethargy, and fever. They also experience shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. If the virus infects a premature baby or a newborn infant, it can cause bronchitis and the child may need hospitalization. Also, the baby may need a ventilator and oxygen supply to be able to breathe properly.
As of now, there is no approved treatment available for this viral disease. Most doctors recommend an antibody injection during or before the RSV season, usually the colder months. The appearance of the virus in the scorching heat of summer baffled many experts and doctors. One of the ways to avoid contracting this virus is to avoid crowds and keep your residence clean as much as possible.