Los Angeles, CA

A New Respiratory Virus Emerges In Los Angeles, But It's Not COVID-19

James McPherson

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As COVID-19 fades, experts are warning of a surge in a different respiratory virus — normally a concern in the fall and winter cold season — that might resurface as spring gives way to summer.

Authorities cautioned about the recent surge of RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, across the southern United States in a warning issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and disseminated by Los Angeles County, public health officials.

The Center For Disease Control released a statement regarding the emerge of this new respiratory virus known as RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), which is often seen in young infants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing this health advisory to notify clinicians and caregivers about increased interseasonal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity across parts of the Southern United States. Due to this increased activity, CDC encourages broader testing for RSV among patients presenting with acute respiratory illness who test negative for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. RSV can be associated with severe disease in young children and older adults. This health advisory also serves as a reminder to healthcare personnel, childcare providers, and staff of long-term care facilities to avoid reporting to work while acutely ill – even if they test negative for SARS-CoV-2.

RSV spreads mostly through respiratory droplets and direct contact with a contaminated surface when a person coughs or sneezes.

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in newborns under the age of one year in the United States.

In babies, young children, and elderly people with chronic medical conditions, RSV infection can cause significant disease.

RSV has symptoms that are similar to COVID-19 and can cause serious disease in both adults and children.

According to the CDC, RSV causes 58,000 hospitalizations in children under the age of five, with 100 to 500 fatalities per year, and 177,000 hospitalizations in seniors 65 and over, with 14,000 deaths per year.

RSV is the most frequent cause of two forms of lung disease in newborns under the age of one: pneumonia, which is a lung infection, and bronchiolitis, which is an inflammation of the lungs' tiny airways.

According to the CDC, one or two children less than six months need to be hospitalized and may need to be placed on a mechanical ventilator.

RSV infections fell sharply in the United States approximately 14 months ago, when states enforced stay-at-home orders in response to the looming COVID-19 pandemic. RSV numbers stayed low until about three months ago.

However, federal officials have observed an upsurge in RSV infections in portions of the South since late March.

“Older babies and toddlers may now be at higher risk of severe RSV-associated illness due to decreased RSV circulation during the winter months of 2020–2021 since they have likely not had normal levels of RSV exposure during the preceding 15 months,” the CDC stated.

Officials advised healthcare professionals to examine more individuals for RSV who have a respiratory illness but have tested negative for the coronavirus.

Authorities also stressed the need to stay at home while unwell, particularly for workers in the healthcare, child care, and long-term care industries.

According to the CDC, RSV symptoms in babies younger than six months might include irritability, poor eating, lethargy, or apnea – a recurrent gasping during sleep.

Symptoms in older babies and young children may begin with a runny nose and decreased appetite, followed by coughing one to three days later, sneezing, fever, and occasionally wheezing.

The disease can cause a runny nose, sore throat, cough, headache, tiredness, and fever in adults.

Are you concerned for yourself and your loved ones about this new virus? Let me know your concerns in the comments below!

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