Jul 10, 2021 - Health

Uptick in severe respiratory virus cases among young children, CDC says

Scanning electron micrograph of human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) virions (colorized blue) and labeled with anti-RSV F protein/gold antibodies (colorized yellow
Scanning electron micrograph of human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) virions (colorized blue) and labeled with anti-RSV F protein/gold antibodies (colorized yellow). Photo: IMAGE POINT FR/NIH/NIAID/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Doctors are warning about the spread of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, among infants and young children, NBC reports.

Why it matters: RSV, which usually spikes during winter months, is unexpectedly spreading, particularly in Southern states. The virus can cause severe illness in kids and older adults and kills as many as 500 children under 5 each year, per NBC.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory last month about the spread of RSV in parts of the south.

The big picture: Due to masking and social distancing over the last year during the worst parts of the pandemic, there was a drop in respiratory illnesses like RSV, but that break appears to be over, Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.

  • "My speculation is that because we suppressed its normal circulation time during the winter, it’s sort of making up for lost time now," Dr. Claudette Poole, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham, told NBC.
  • If a child is diagnosed with RSV, doctors advise parents to monitor their breathing. Very young babies and children with underlying lung conditions or weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to RSV.

The bottom line: "We usually talk about RSV in the winter, but we need to be on the lookout now, even in the summer," Dr. Diana Peterson, a pediatrician at Ochsner Hospital for Children, told NBC.

Go deeper: Doctors see a delayed seasonal surge of RSV in children

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