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What You Should Know About The Troubling Rise in RSV Cases In SoCal And Nationwide

An elevated crosswalk reads Children's Hospital of Los Angeles beyond a red light at Vermont Avenue.
Children's Hospital of Los Angeles is reporting an unseasonably early surge in RSV cases
(Chava Sanchez
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Cases of a respiratory illness in children — known as RSV — are on the rise nationally and here in Southern California.

What’s new: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles says it’s seeing a “surge of RSV cases unseasonably earlier than normal,” said Marisa Glucoft, executive director of quality and safety at CHLA. The positivity rate for RSV is currently 31% — compared to last winter’s peak of 24%. In California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a tripling of cases detected by PCR tests in mid-October compared to the previous month.

Why now: RSV — short for respiratory syncytial virus — used to peak around late December or January, but since COVID, “seasonality is kind of out the window,” said Dr. Santhosh M. Nadipuram, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cedars-Sinai. He said doctors have been reporting a rise in both outpatient cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. The majority of cases will be minor, he said, but the disease can be especially severe for children under 6 months old.

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How to stay healthy: Dr. Nadipuram says in young children, the disease is most frequently spread by their mucus and saliva. “So touching their mouth, touching their nose, and then touching other things like toys and surfaces, and then another child will go pick that up and put that in their mouth or near their face. So, handwashing is really, really the best.” While there isn’t a vaccine for RSV, public health officials say adults and children 6 months and older should get the flu and COVID vaccines to protect themselves this winter.

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