Some parts of the Southeastern U.S. are seeing an increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and clinicians should prepare to use new products to prevent illness, according to a new advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Historically, such regional increases have predicted the beginning of RSV season nationally, with increased RSV activity spreading north and west over the following 2-3 months,” officials said in the advisory.
CDC surveillance systems show increases in weekly polymerase chain reaction test positivity above 3% in Florida beginning in the week ending July 22 and three-week moving average above 5% for the past four weeks.
Data from Georgia also show an increase in RSV-associated hospitalization rates. Among children under 4 years, the hospitalization rate increased from 2 per 100,000 children in this age group to 7 per 100,000.
RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the U.S. There are about 58,000 to 80,000 hospitalizations and 100 to 300 deaths per year in children under 5 years, according to CDC data.
Last month, the CDC director signed off on a new monoclonal antibody, nirsevimab (Beyfortus) to protect infants and high-risk toddlers from RSV. The new product is expected to be available by early October, although some children may not have immediate access.
The AAP recently released guidance for providing nirsevimab as well as the continued use of palivizumab in the 2023-’24 season. Nirsevimab is recommended for all infants younger than 8 months born during or entering their first RSV season and children 8 months through 19 months at increased risk of severe RSV disease entering their second season. The AAP also has resources for pediatricians on ordering, dosing, payment/coding and more.
In late August, the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s RSVPreF (Abrysvo), the first vaccine for pregnant people to protect their infants from RSV. A CDC advisory committee is scheduled to meet Sept. 22 to make recommendations for use of the vaccine. Health officials also recently approved new vaccines to protect older adults from severe RSV disease.
In addition to using these products, the CDC recommends clinicians test symptomatic patients with high-risk conditions for COVID-19, influenza and RSV. It also called on the public to ask their health care provider about RSV protection and to stay home when they are sick.
- AAP guidance on nirsevimab from Red Book Online
- AAP nirsevimab resources, including an FAQ and information on ordering, storage, dosing and coding
- AAP policy Updated Guidance for Palivizumab Prophylaxis Among Infants and Young Children at Increased Risk of Hospitalization for Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection
- Information from the AAP Red Book on RSV
- Information for clinicians from the CDC on RSV
- Information for parents from HealthyChildren.org on RSV symptoms and when to call a doctor