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National RSV surge hits Jacksonville

Ric Anderson
Jacksonville Today

Respiratory syncytial virus — RSV — is surging across the U.S., and Jacksonville kids aren’t being spared.

Dr. Mobeen Rathore, chief of infectious disease at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, says the hospital is “definitely in an RSV outbreak situation,” with more than 10% of patients testing positive for the illness.

At Wolfson’s hospital and emergency centers, the number of cases rose from 319 in July to 611 in September. Cases stood at 517 as of Oct. 25.

The symptoms of RSV are similar to the common cold, but the disease can cause pneumonia and inflammation of the small airways in the lungs of very young children. It can be serious and even fatal for young babies.

Generally, most children are infected with RSV by the time they’re 2, but pandemic precautions like mask wearing and social distancing had kept infections down the past couple of winters. Now, more children are being infected earlier in the year.

There’s no vaccine for RSV, so health officials say it’s important for parents to keep household surfaces clean, wash their children’s hands and their own frequently, and keep kids home when they’re sick.