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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants to inform doctors and caregivers about a rise in a virus called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in some parts of the Southeastern United States. This has been happening in the past few weeks. It seems like RSV is following its usual pattern before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, when RSV activity went up in a region, it meant that RSV would become more active all over the country in the next 2-3 months. RSV can be very serious for babies, young kids, and older adults.

Looking ahead to the RSV season of 2023-2024, the CDC is advising doctors to get ready to use new ways to prevent RSV. There are special antibody products, including a new one called nirsevimab, which can protect babies and some young children who are at higher risk of getting seriously sick from RSV. For all babies under 8 months old, and for babies and kids from 8 to 19 months old who might get very sick from RSV, doctors should offer nirsevimab when it's ready (which should be around early October).

There are also two new vaccines that can help protect older adults from getting seriously sick from RSV. For adults who are 60 years old and up, doctors should offer one dose of an RSV vaccine. They can choose between RSVPreF3 (known as Arexvy) or RSVpreF (know as AbrysvoTM), depending on what's best for the patient. Doctors should also talk to their patients about other vaccines that can help prevent respiratory infections this fall. If patients show symptoms and have high-risk health conditions, doctors should think about testing them for COVID-19, the flu, and RSV to decide on the right treatment.

People who work in healthcare, take care of kids, or work in long-term care facilities should stay home if they have a fever or signs of a respiratory infection. This will help stop infections like RSV from spreading.

Preventing RSV

You can take steps to prevent the spread of RSV. If you have cold-like symptoms, you should:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your shirt sleeve, not your hands
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid close contact with others, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices

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Health Alert from the CDC: Increased RSV Activity in Southeastern US