‘We’re seeing them at unusual times of year now’: record number of RSV cases reported in ENC this month

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The delta variant isn’t the only sickness on the rise.

Hospitals across the southeast are seeing an increase in RSV. It’s a respiratory virus most common in children two years and younger.

Doctors in Eastern North Carolina said RSV is typically a wintertime illness. Right now, they’re seeing record-breaking cases here.

“Our largest number we’ve ever recorded in any one week is 60,” said Dr. William Dalzell, who works with ECU’s Brody School of Medicine and Maynard Children’s Hospital. “That was back in January 2020. Last week we had 68. So we’re already seeing new records.”

Dr. Dalzell said during the pandemic, Vidant only saw one case of RSV, and it was in an adult. He said we can thank masks and social distancing for the drop in illness.

“RSV is mainly almost 100 percent person-to-person transmission only,” he said. “If you eliminate the contact and you eliminate the droplets, you basically don’t see spread.”

Dalzell said nearly all children get RSV before their second birthdays. That’s why so many are getting infected now.

“We have a much larger pool of children who don’t have immunity or at least partial immunity to RSV,” he said. “We have a large cohort of children out there who can get it.”

The good news is most kids just get a runny nose and cough with the virus. Dr. Dalzell said there is something you can do to help.

“As silly as it sounds, washing your hands and good cough hygiene are the best ways to keep spread down,” he said.

Dalzell said kids are more likely to have symptoms with RSV than COVID. But it can be hard to tell the difference between the two because they present in similar ways. Many Vidant clinics are testing for both viruses, as well as the flu, with the same swab.

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