RSV activity increases as work continues on vaccine

Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 7:29 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin is seeing increased activity when it comes to Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

There is no specific treatment for illness caused by RSV, but young people could end up in the hospital.

Children with severe cases of RSV could be transferred to Children’s Wisconsin. During the week of Nov. 1, the hospital was averaging 52 children hospitalized with RSV daily at CW.

“We know here at Children’s we really want to ensure that we have the right amount of beds and the capacity to care for the sickest kids in the state. We know that the amount of kids in clinics, urgent cares and ERs has increased significantly,” says Dr. Ranier Gedeit, Chief Medical Officer, Children’s Wisconsin.

Children’s Wisconsin says premature babies, infants still nursing or bottle feeding, and children with underlying conditions are most at risk of being hospitalized with RSV.

RSV can be dangerous for newborns because of their small airways. RSV is known to cause mucus and inflammation that blocks airways.

Warning signs are difficulty breathing, increased temperature, and difficulty nursing or bottle feeding. If a baby has a big increase in wet diapers in a day, that could be a sign of dehydration.

Doctors recommend washing hands often with warm water and soap or using an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Make sure everyone’s hands are clean when they hold or touch a baby. Keep sick family members away from a baby. They also recommend being up to date on COVID-19 and flu vaccinations.

Dr. Gedeit encourages parents to call a doctor upon noticing symptoms of RSV.

There is no vaccine for RSV in the United States, but one has been approved in Europe. The Pfizer vaccine is set to go through trials in the U.S.

The vaccine would be given to pregnant mothers who could pass antibodies to the fetus.

”They are looking at vaccines but when we’re looking at our highest-risk population it’s tricky to give a vaccine that gives instant immunity when you’re born right during RSV season. You won’t have time to develop immunity. Vaccines are pretty tricky at that age given how seasonal and timely that is and the season not being predictable,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President/CEO of Prevea Health.

Pfizer says the international study on the vaccine shows it is over 80 percent effective at preventing severe RSV.

A monoclonal antibody treatment for RSV has been approved in Europe.