The Southern part of the United States is seeing an unusual late spring wave of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections and health care providers should be on alert, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Thursday.
The recent spread of the virus has occurred in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
"Due to this increased activity, CDC encourages broader testing for RSV among patients presenting with acute respiratory illness who test negative for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the virus that causes COVID-19," the CDC alert advised.
"RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under 1 year of age in the United States. Infants, young children, and older adults with chronic medical conditions are at risk of severe disease from RSV infection," the agency said. "Each year in the United States, RSV leads to on average approximately 58,000 hospitalizations with 100 to 500 deaths among children younger than 5 years old and 177,000 hospitalizations with 14,000 deaths among adults aged 65 years or older."
The CDC also warned that due "to reduced circulation of RSV during the winter months of 2020 to 2021, older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they have likely not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months."
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