RSV surge raises questions about repeat cases: Can you or child get it again?

As respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, continues to increase in the United States, experts warn that it can infect people more than once.

Chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Long Island, New York. “A person can get more than one RSV in their lifetime,” Aaron Glatt told Fox News Digital this week.

A second infection is unlikely to occur immediately after a new episode. Still, one person can be infected more than once during the same season, especially in immunocompromised children and older adults, Glatt said.

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“Weekly RSV hospitalization rates are now much higher than in the previous four seasons and exceed weekly peak rates in all pediatric age groups since pediatric data began to be collected on RSV-NET in October 2018,” the centers spokesperson said. He told Fox News Digital for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

RSV-NET reports surveillance for recently laboratory-confirmed and RSV-related hospitalizations in children and adults younger than 18 years.

Blood sample showing respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). "Rates are even higher now than they were in the fall of 2021 when there was an unusual RSV circulation pattern," said a CDC spokesperson.

Blood sample showing respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). “The rates are even higher than they are now compared to the fall of 2021 when there was an unusual RSV circulation pattern,” a CDC spokesperson said.
(iStock)

“The timing of this is also unusual, as we don’t usually see hospitalization rates this high in October and November,” a CDC spokesperson said.

“The rates are even higher now than they were in the fall of 2021 when there was an unusual RSV circulation pattern.”

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“Certainly RSV normally occurs in winter, so weather plays a critical role and is endemic,” said Glatt, spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“But wherever you are, if RSV is in your environment, you can get it in any weather – though it’s really a winter sickness,” he said.

Why are we seeing an increase in cases?

“Before 2020, seasonal patterns for RSV in the United States were very consistent,” the CDC website said.

“However, the circulation patterns of RSV and other common respiratory viruses have been disrupted since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020,” the agency said.

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A CDC spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “The CDC now publishes weekly hospitalization rates for lab-confirmed RSV hospitalizations determined through the RSV-NET sentry surveillance system.”

"Circulation patterns of RSV and other common respiratory viruses have been disrupted since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020."

“The circulation patterns of RSV and other common respiratory viruses have been disrupted since the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic in early 2020.”
(iStock)

“RSV hospitalization rates are highest in children. [who are less than] Hospitalization rates in children older than 6 months have also increased compared to previous seasons.

Many people focus on people at high risk of RSV, such as premature babies, young children with heart defects and chronic lung disease at birth, or those who are immunocompromised.

“About two-thirds of children admitted with RSV are actually healthy, normal children.”

But Dr., a pediatric infectious disease physician and medical director of the immunization program at UW Health Kids in Madison, Wisconsin. James H. Conway said these patients accounted for only one-third of hospitalizations.

“About two-thirds of children admitted with RSV are actually healthy, normal children,” said Conway, MD, a professor of pediatrics in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

This transmission electron micrograph reveals the morphological features of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), 1981.

This transmission electron micrograph reveals the morphological features of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), 1981.
(Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

A CDC spokesperson said, “The highest hospitalization rates in adults occurred at age 65 and older, and hospitalization rates with RSV also increased in adults.”

However, the data should be interpreted with caution, as the latest two weeks of RSV-NET data are prone to delays in reporting.

Why do some people get infected more than once?

“We’ve known for decades that immunity from naturally occurring respiratory viruses isn’t great for most respiratory viruses, whether it’s rhinoviruses, parainfluenza viruses or RSV,” Conway said.

“This is why people can get these infections over and over again.”

And as with the flu, people can be infected with different strains of RSV.

Experts said that children can indeed get more than one case of RSV.  Similar to influenza, there are multiple strains of RSV.

Experts said that children can indeed get more than one case of RSV. Similar to influenza, there are multiple strains of RSV.
(iStock)

“Similar to influenza, there is more than one strain of RSV, so there is one RSV-A. [strain] and there is an RSV-B [strain] – just like the flu [type] A and flu [type] B,” Conway told Fox News Digital.

“People can get it multiple times because even if they do have one strain, cross-protective immunity is only partial.”

It is often difficult to prevent an infection after the virus has already invaded the body.

Conway said our immunity includes multiple components, including different types of antibodies that patrol our bloodstream for foreign invaders and secretory antibodies.

“There are parts of your immune system that are mainly responsible for catching. [the virus and] saying ‘this is important’ [to] Presenting to your immune system’ and ‘This is something we really have to deal with.'”

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However, he added that it is often difficult to prevent an infection after the virus has already invaded the body.

The next time a person is exposed to the virus, the immune system remembers it and “lines up” its arsenal of T cells to neutralize the virus.

The first RSV vaccines for older adults in the US may soon be available.

The first RSV vaccines for older adults in the US may soon be available.
(iStock)

“But as a temporary measure, [the immune system] It takes your B cells and fires up a bunch of antibodies that will be in the circulation, which grabs the viruses and pulls them out of that circulation. [perhaps] before it causes disease,” Conway said.

Vaccines available for older adults

Conway noted that we may have our first RSV vaccines for older adults in the US next fall.

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According to multiple reports, several companies, including Pfizer, GSK, and Janssen, have RSV vaccines in the final stages of human trials for adults, namely the elderly.

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“Protection for infants is already available in the form of monoclonal antibody injections for high-risk premature infants, and long-acting versions for all children are also on the horizon,” added Conway.

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