Why are RSV cases rising among adults?
RSV isn’t new, even among adults. But there are a few reasons more cases are cropping up now.
“Over the past two-plus years, all the things we did to protect ourselves from COVID protected us from other respiratory infections, too,” says Georges Benjamin, M.D., executive director of the American Public Health Association.
Think: Masking, hand washing and staying away from others when you’re sick.
Now, as COVID-19 measures are relaxed, you’re spending more time in public around others, it’s cold and flu season, and the colder months keep you indoors, he says. “So we transmit these viruses to one another more.”
RSV is also just being identified more frequently, Dr. Dobrzynski said. In hospitals, “triple testing” for COVID-19, the flu and RSV is becoming more common.
Anyone can get RSV, but two major adult groups are most at risk for the infection: people age 65 and older and individuals with chronic illnesses or who are immunocompromised.
Every year, 60,000 to 120,000 older people are hospitalized for RSV in the U.S., and 6,000 to 10,000 die from the infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).