Title: CDC Warns of Rising Respiratory Syncytial Virus Cases in Southeastern US
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning regarding the surge in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases among young children in parts of the Southeastern United States. RSV season typically begins in the fall and continues through the winter, but this year there has been an alarming increase in cases in Florida and Georgia.
In the past four weeks, Florida has witnessed PCR test positivity rates above 5%, surpassing the usual threshold of 3% seen at the start of RSV season. Georgia has also experienced a significant rise in RSV-linked hospitalizations among children under the age of 4, jumping from 2.0 per 100,000 to 7.0 per 100,000 in just two weeks. It is worth mentioning that the majority of these hospitalizations occurred in children less than a year old.
The CDC underlines that RSV can pose a particularly dangerous threat to babies, young children, and older adults. Common symptoms of the virus include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and a decrease in appetite. Disturbingly, each year an estimated 58,000 to 80,000 children under the age of 5 and 60,000 to 160,000 adults aged 65 and older are hospitalized due to RSV, with approximately 100 to 300 children and 6,000 to 10,000 senior citizens dying as a result.
However, this season offers some optimism as vaccines and a new drug are available to provide protection against RSV. Major pharmacy chains now offer RSV vaccinations for adults over 60. Additionally, a new drug called Beyfortus has been approved for infants younger than eight months who are experiencing their first RSV season. This single-dose injected drug, made of monoclonal antibodies, works differently from a vaccine and aims to combat the virus.
Furthermore, another potential RSV treatment is pending CDC approval. This treatment involves an immunization given during late pregnancy to pass on protection to newborns. If approved, it could be a significant breakthrough in preventing RSV cases in vulnerable newborns.
The CDC advises clinicians and caregivers to remain vigilant about the increased RSV activity and take appropriate precautions. With the availability of vaccinations and new drugs like Beyfortus, there is hope for better control and prevention of this potentially dangerous virus.