Louisiana Sees Unusually High Number of RSV Cases – Here’s What You Need to Know
As the Fall weather comes (and goes), so do the various illnesses that come with cooler weather.
Medical professionals are increasingly becoming concerned with the high number of Respiratory Syncytial Virus infections seen in Louisiana. The number of positive cases is trending far higher this time of the year than we've seen in recent years.
According to the CDC, the symptoms of RSV are much like those of a common cold. They include:
- Runny nose
- Decrease in appetite
"These symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once," the CDC says on their RSV site. "In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties."
The agency also notes that "almost all children will have had an RSV infection by their second birthday."
The virus is typically spread by respiratory droplets and direct contact. Washing hands thoroughly and using hand sanitizer are among the recommended preventative measures.
A Nationwide Rise
According to The Washington Post, one of the reasons RSV could be on the rise across the nation is due to the COVID-19 protocols most adopted when the pandemic was on the rise.
Experts agree that people did the right thing by wearing masks and socially distancing because of the coronavirus, but the lack of interaction with germs also made our bodies far less resilient to disease.
Small interactions with viruses prime our system to better handle future exposures to viruses. After years of masking in schools and distancing, children have fewer biological defenses to fend off multiple viruses at once. Most children under 3 have never known a world without covid-19, so neither have their immune systems. Part of this is also a numbers game — the more months the viruses are prevalent, the better chance an immune system can be caught off-guard.
All that means young children are nearly helpless against all the respiratory viruses that thrive during winter.
That is also the reason RSV and flu cases spiked in the summer during the pandemic. Most of the winter months were spent with people in masks and isolated, preventing much spread of the other viruses. Once people felt more comfortable getting out, they were exposed to those viruses.