Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, is spreading at an unprecedented rate.
“It’s a runny nose, congestion a low-grade fever and difficulty breathing, it sounds a lot like COVID in fact,” said Rady Children’s Hospital Infectious Disease Dr. John Bradley.
The virus typically spreads in the winter, months before tapering off in the early spring, but this year it has begun to spread in the summer months.
In 2019, there were 5 cases of RSV at Rady Children’s Hospital over the months of June, July, and August.
In 2021, there have been 16 cases in one week of August and 70 known cases so far.
Many cases of RSV in both adults and children aren’t a cause of concern, but some severe cases lead to hospitalization.
"Babies when they first get infected, this virus causes huge inflammation in the lungs and babies will have leaky airways, so fluid goes out of the blood vessels into the airways and as you fill the airways with blood you can’t exchange oxygen. So, these babies begin to breathe faster and faster because they aren’t able to get oxygen into their bloodstream,” Bradley said.
Hospitals like Rady Children’s Hospital are navigating this precarious time trying to control the RSV numbers while simultaneously battling COVID-19 and preparing for the upcoming flu season.
The same preventative measures that are used for COVID are effective in stopping the spread of RSV.
Rady Children’s Hospital is putting in place measures to make sure they can manage the uptick in both RSV and the pandemic.
“It is and we expect flu cases as well we’ve got a great group that projects what the need will be for hospital beds, nurses, and hospital resources and we have got contingency plans so we are ready for it," Bradley said.