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Pediatricians: RSV infections are on the rise

With mask-wearing and physical distancing for COVID-19, there were fewer cases of respiratory syncytial virus (known as RSV) in 2020. But RSV activity is now on the rise, with corresponding increases in emergency department visits and hospitalizations of infants and children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. But RSV can become serious, especially for infants and older adults. It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

AAP has published new interim guidance on the treatment of serious lower respiratory tract infections caused by RSV in response to an uncharacteristic rise in cases over the spring and summer. These respiratory tract infections typically are seen in fall and winter, peaking in February and occurring in infants younger than 6 months who can develop severe diseases such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

The AAP recommends consideration of the use of palivizumab, a monoclonal antibody directed against the fusion protein of RSV, in infants at increased risk of severe disease. The new guidance changes only the timing of administration of the treatment palivizumab, due to the change in seasonality of RSV this year. Cases began rising in some regions of the United States in spring 2021 after some COVID-19 safety protocols, such as masking and physical distancing, were relaxed.

Learn more about RSV at the AAP website HealthyChildren.org or the CDC website at cdc.gov/rsv 

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