What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of RSV And Why Cases Are Rising? Here Is What to Know

Learn more about ‘What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of RSV And Why Cases Are Rising?’ Despite it being early in the season, RSV numbers are increasing, and some communities and hospitals are already at capacity.

According to ABC News, a pediatric hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has observed a 46 percent spike in cases compared to last year, and officials are worried about the potential consequences of an increase in COVID and influenza infections. According to Luanne Thomas Ewald, chief operating officer of Mott Children’s Hospital, “we have been 100% full, I guess we’re going on our sixth week, and RSV seems to have surfaced earlier this year and in bigger numbers this year.” We’re only starting to see flu cases in our emergency room, so the fact that we’re already filled worries us.

The tension is also being felt in Massachusetts. According to Boston.com, “Dr. Brian Cummings, the medical director for pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), said Thursday during a news conference that they are accepting so many RSV patients that both their physical and staffing capacities are being exceeded.” In the meantime, due to an increase in cases, Los Angeles is considering reintroducing the mask requirement. KTLA claims, “Indoor masking recommendations might be reinstated if the county reaches 100 cases per 100,000 residents. Currently, there are 86 cases per 100,000 residents in L.A. County.”


What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of RSV And Why Cases Are Rising? Here Is What to Know
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of RSV And Why Cases Are Rising? Here Is What to Know


According to KTLA, Barbara Ferrer, head of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said during a recent press conference that indoor masking would be “highly advised for everyone, as it has been in the past for heightened transmission.” An further problem LA is dealing with is a lack of hospital beds. According to Dr. Kimberly Shriner, an infectious disease specialist at Huntington Hospital, “about 78% of all pediatric beds in the country are currently full, so we are starting to get concerned about our ability to handle the higher volume as time goes on.”

According to Ashesh Gandhi, PharmD, Regional Head of Medical Affairs, Americas, at CSL Seqirus, “Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms like a runny nose, coughing, and decreased appetite.” RSV symptoms in young newborns might include irritability, reduced activity, and breathing problems.

RSV has the potential to lead to more severe health issues like pneumonia and bronchiolitis, which are most prevalent in children under the age of one. The RSV infection causes an estimated 58,000–80,000 children under the age of five to be hospitalized every year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We asked professionals what they knew about RSV and what symptoms to watch out for.

Why RSV Cases Are Rising

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of RSV And Why Cases Are Rising? Here Is What to Know
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of RSV And Why Cases Are Rising? Here Is What to Know


says Dr. Gandhi “Flu activity and RSV infections decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic when individuals wore masks and avoided close contact with others. However, viral illnesses have increased this season as more kids went to school without masks than in the previous nearly three years. The CDC estimates that by the time they are 2 years old, almost all children will have RSV infection; however, the pandemic disrupted the normal timeline of exposure, causing children aged 3 and younger to simultaneously experience RSV and other viral infections, filling children’s hospitals across the nation to capacity or beyond.”

Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of TeleMed2U, Dr. Javeed Siddiqui, says, “Although we are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the sharp rise in RSV infections throughout the United States, we do know that masking is effective. The fact that we aren’t disguising as much now also contributes to the spread of respiratory infections.”

With more than fifteen years of education and experience in both laboratory and clinical settings, Erica Susky, a Certified Infection Control Practitioner with a Masters’ Degree in Medical Microbiology, adds, “Pandemic restrictions have stopped the spread of other respiratory viruses like influenza as well as SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, pre-pandemic levels of school attendance have begun, which will make it simpler for the virus to spread among kids and their siblings or a newborn at home.”


RSV Symptoms Usually Feel Like This

5 months old baby with respiratory syncytial virus, inhaling medication through inhalation mask while looking at with his tired eyes
RSV Symptoms Usually Feel Like This


Pediatrician Daniel Ganjian, MD, of Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, explains to us, “RSV symptoms can range from being asymptomatic and having a low-grade fever to having a runny nose, a cough, trouble breathing, wheezing, and a high temperature. Patients frequently begin with a cough and runny nose that peak on days three and four before starting to get better. We perform a nasal swab test, which is comparable to COVID and flu tests. Once we’ve made the right diagnosis, we’ll know what to watch for and when patients should return or visit the emergency room.”

Susky claims: “RSV often starts with symptoms that mimic the sniffles and the common cold. The infection could remain in this stage or it might develop into a more serious sickness. A cough, runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion are the first symptoms of the mild phase, which may also include a fever and appetite loss. Later, more severe symptoms could appear, including wheezing, increased respiratory effort, shortness of breath, and a buildup of fluid in the lungs that could make breathing sound rattling or bubbly.”

Everyone Is At Risk For RSV

Nurse with thermometer measures fever on patient child in hospital bed, wearing protective visor and surgical mask.
Everyone Is At Risk For RSV


All persons are susceptible to contracting a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, according to Susky. It is a virus that is more frequently spread in the fall and winter. People’s resistance to the virus wanes with time, making them susceptible to re-infection. The viral infection is often mild and self-limiting in nature. Others are more likely to develop a severe RSV infection that might necessitate hospitalization. The very young and old, as well as those with compromised immune systems, are at higher risk because their immune systems are less able to fend off viral infections. Infants under six months and preterm infants are most at risk for hospitalization.

As the virus targets the lung and the lungs and heart are closely linked in function, those with cardiopulmonary conditions are at a higher risk of developing a severe infection. Finally, people with neurologic and neuromuscular disorders are more likely to develop a severe infection because they are less able to coordinate their nervous system’s responses to help clear mucus and secretions from the lungs, making them more susceptible to lower respiratory tract infections.

There’s No Vaccine For RSV

Child girl wearing a protection mask against coronavirus
There’s No Vaccine For RSV


Dr. Gandhi accentuates, “While there is currently no vaccine available for RSV, we do have protection against the flu and COVID-19, so I strongly advise anyone who has not yet received either of these vaccinations to do so right away. The COVID-19 vaccination and the influenza vaccine can both be given during the same appointment. The best way to lower the risk of getting influenza and COVID-19 illnesses and complications—including those that result in hospitalization and death—is through vaccination. We can significantly reverse the current trend of an increase in respiratory viruses if everyone who is eligible agrees to get their seasonal influenza vaccination.”

Adds Susky: “Due to the lack of a vaccine to prevent transmission and severe illness, those who are more susceptible to severe RSV infection are especially at risk. As was previously mentioned, many healthy children and adults may have a very mild form of RSV and may not be aware that they have a condition that is more serious than the common cold. They may also fail to think about the possible consequences of exposing higher risk groups. As a result, if one has friends or family members in a vulnerable population, they should definitely continue using the precautions they learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. This would entail washing your hands frequently, donning a mask when around a vulnerable person, and refraining from visiting them even if you were only mildly ill.”

Stay Calm And Don’t Panic

A girl taking a selfie of her family outdoors with face masks.
Stay Calm And Don’t Panic


Dr. J. Wes Ulm, a Harvard and MIT-trained MD, PhD with experience in genetics, gene therapy, drug discovery, consulting, and education, emphasizes that parents shouldn’t panic but rather should be on the lookout for their children’s symptoms. Again, even today, the majority of children survive their episodes with mild cases, and mild colds don’t require medical attention. Having said that, this season has seen a marked increase in disease severity and overall burden due to the simultaneous emergence of several respiratory pathogens.

Therefore, it’s crucial to carefully monitor children’s symptoms and keep an eye out for any signs of a more serious illness, such as lethargy, a high and prolonged fever (especially if it doesn’t go away with fever-reducing medication), poor eating and drinking habits, respiratory distress, and other symptoms. When in doubt, it’s preferable to consult a family doctor or pediatrician as their offices have doctors and nurses on call to answer inquiries about a child’s health.

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