UVA Doctor explains why RSV cases are rising earlier this fall

Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 4:58 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As winter draws closer, so too does RSV season. While doctors usually expect a rise in the fall and a peak in the winter, this year’s rise in cases is occurring at a faster rate and with higher severity.

Doctor Debbie Ann Shirley is an expert on pediatric infectious disease with UVA Health.

“Now in October, and we’re seeing a lot of RSV infections, more than we typically would see in October typically when cases are just starting to rise,” Dr. Shirley said.

Dr. Shirley says the rise in severity is because the first infection with RSV is usually the worst, and many children never built a tolerance to RSV since COVID-19 prevention measures kept transmission low. She says the pandemic was the first time she had ever seen a winter season without RSV.

“Most children will be infected with RSV by the time they turn two years of age, so it typically causes an upper respiratory type of infection,” Dr. Shirley said. “We are seeing a lot of children get RSV and also being admitted with severe RSV.”

While RSV can be fatal, Dr. Shirley says it’s very rare, with related deaths being mostly among the elderly.

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