The Grapevine

RSV Outbreak: Doctors Issue Warning As Virus Spreads Fast

Many people started the new decade with an unexpected guest. The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) took advantage of the gatherings and parties during the holidays, where it was able to spread to different people. 

RSV is spreading faster in the beginning of 2020. Doctors said the number of hospitalizations for infected children this season appears higher than usual.

“In the 35 years I’ve been doing this, I don’t know that I have ever seen RSV come on so strong so early in the season,” Dan McGee, a pediatric hospitalist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told TODAY. “Not to make people panic, but this year seems to be particularly bad.”

The growing cases of RSV infections have been reported by hospitals in New York, Kentucky, North Dakota, Louisiana and Ohio. In the Chicago area, hospitals started the year with emergency rooms full of patients that contracted the virus, NBC 5 Chicago reported. 

“RSV has arrived several weeks earlier than it usually does. We have seen many cases in our ICU and many children have been hospitalized,” Matthew Washam, medical director of epidemiology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, said. “It’s an atypical year for RSV in terms of severity.”

The medical community has yet to determine why the virus started to spread earlier and faster this year. Some health experts said that RSV potentially mutated and moved faster than usual because of the changes in the weather.

There is no vaccine or treatment available against RSV. McGee said that supplements or antibiotics can help prevent the infection. 

Doctors recommend that people practice good hygiene to avoid contracting RSV, such as hand washing and staying home when sick. The virus can easily spread from one person to another through direct and indirect contacts, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

People can get the virus through direct contact, like kissing, or when droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person reach the eyes, nose or mouth. RSV can also enter the body when an individual touches a surface that has the virus, like a doorknob or table, and then they put their hands on their face.

RSV can survive for many hours on hard surfaces, the CDC said. The people who are more likely to get severe infections are premature infants, young children with congenital heart or lung disease, people with weakened immune systems and older adults.

RSV The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can spread from one person to another through direct and indirect contacts, such as kissing and touching surfaces that has the virus. Pixabay

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