Health experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said that they have issued a warning about the seasonally unusual spread of a respiratory virus called RSV in the southern states of the US. The RSV virus leads to a respiratory illness that is similar to a cold. Experts have issued an official health advisory regarding the spike in RSV cases. They have said that health care providers and doctors need to be attentive as cases of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) cases are shooting up. The officials of the CDC have said that RSV infections are the most common reason for bronchitis and pneumonia in children who are in the age range of 1 year in the United States. The cases of RSV take place normally in the season of winter during flu season. As the cases of RSV are shooting up in the southern states, the CDC has stated in the health advisory that extensive testing for RSV should be put in place among patients who are dealing with severe respiratory illness even after testing negative for COVID19. The CDC officials have asked all health care workers to stay at home if they are sick and have tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Health experts have said that the RSV virus spreads through respiratory droplets that come out when a person coughs or sneezes. People can contract the virus through contaminated surfaces as well, said the experts.
The CDC has reported that the cases of RSV have been relatively low from March 2020 to March 2021, same as other respiratory diseases like Flu. However, towards the end of March, experts have noticed an increase in the transmission of RSV virus in the states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee. Experts from the CDC have said that older infants and toddlers might be at a higher risk of severe RSV-linked disease due to the lower spread of the RSV virus during the winter months of 2020 and 2021. The CDC has warned that older infants and toddlers have not been exposed to this virus in the past 15 months. Experts have said that caregivers and health care providers need to watch out for certain symptoms. In infants who are younger than six months, the RSV infection might lead to symptoms of irritability, poor feeding, lethargy, or apnea with or without fever. RSV infection in older infants and young kids might result in reduced appetite followed by coughing, sneezing, fever, and wheezing. Health experts have said that these symptoms with rhinorrhea, pharyngitis, cough, headache, fatigue, and fever are quite consistent with upper respiratory tract infections. At present, there is no particular treatment for RSV disease, said the experts.
In the United States, RSV infection results in nearly 58000 hospitalizations on average along with 100 to 500 deaths among toddlers who are younger than 5 years old each year. The RSV virus results in 177000 hospitalizations and nearly 14000 deaths in adults who are in the age range of 65 years and above. The American Lung Association (ALA) has said that normally testing is not needed to diagnose a positive RSV case. Health care providers can perform a blood test or collect mouth swabs to detect the infection. Some additional testing such as X-ray or CT scan might be required in more severe cases of RSV, said the experts. The CDC has said that currently there is no vaccine for RSV. However, health experts are trying to develop shot and antiviral treatments that are effective against the RSV virus. The work is still under process, said the officials from the CDC. Experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease have said that a team of scientists has conducted an early trial of an experimental RSV shot in 2019 that has shown promising results. This shot has been able to trigger RSV neutralizing antibodies that have lasted for many months. Commenting on this trail, infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci has said that the findings of the early trial have proved that the structure-based strategy to come up with a shot for RSV might bring experts closer to their aim.