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Flu-like virus having early seasonal impact in Midwest, including Nebraska

Young children, seniors most at-risk from potentially deadly respiratory virus
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 11:34 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - At a time when the delta variant is causing a spike in COVID-19 infections, the CDC warns about an unusual increase in cases of a potentially dangerous flu-like virus, RSV.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus is usually most prevalent in the fall and winter months, but in June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about increased activity in the South. The numbers have since increased in the Midwest and other regions, including Nebraska. In Omaha, a spokesperson for Children’s Hospital confirmed there has been an increase in RSV patients.

Most who contract RSV experience only mild, cold-like symptoms. Not unlike the flu, RSV is highly contagious. There is currently no approved vaccine for the virus. In Nebraska, clinical trials have been underway for several years at Meridian Clinical Research, where study advances make Dr. Keith Vrbicky optimistic.

“The safety of the vaccines has increased, the efficacy has increased,” said Vrbicky, a principal researcher for Meridian Clinical Research in Norfolk, NE. “That’s real exciting because if we can eliminate or decrease the severity of this RSV infection, all the way from the little babies to the elderly, that’s gonna be a game changer in the world. “

It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than one-year-old. According to the CDC, while most people recover in a week or two, RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.

“Given the changes that COVID created I think practitioners need to be on the alert that this virus is increasing in prevalence here, in the southern states and the Midwest,” Vrbicky said. “And we need to start culturing, looking for it, and supporting people.”

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