RSV cases in seniors are surging across US hospitals

We’ve been talking about the rise in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases and how historic this flu season is supposed to be. I know it sounds like fear-mongering, but we’re seeing evidence of both here in LA. The flu is already spreading around the schools and my neighbors’ day-care just shut down for a couple of weeks due to RSV cases. And I’ve started getting Covid exposure notices from my kids’ high school after not seeing those for months.

When we’ve discussed RSV in the past, we led with the child RSV case rates. That’s because they are the highest affected group, and their surge was unseasonably early. I did try to emphasize however, that the next most affected group were 65 and older. And that while it was hospitalizing kids, it was more likely to kill seniors. Unfortunately, the warnings have come to pass. RSV cases have surged in seniors and hospitalization rates are up 10 times.

The Respiratory Syncytial Virus is affecting children and adults across the United States.

According to new data, about 6 out of every 100,000 seniors have been hospitalized with the virus.

This season, which ranges from mid-September to mid-November, has seen a surge in RSV cases among older adults with hospitalization rates 10 times higher than last season. In previous years the CDC saw an average of 60,000-120,000 hospitalizations and about 6,000-10,000 reported deaths.

Earlier in November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory alert after it observed an increase in RSV detections and RSV-associated emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

While the cases in older adults are significantly lower than the number of children that are being infected with the virus, the CDC has stressed that adults with chronic heart or lung disease, a weakened immune system, or are 65 years and older, are all in danger of contracting the virus.

[From People]

So, that’s not good. Remember that there is no vaccine for RSV. But they do advise getting the flu vaccine because avoiding the flu will minimize complications from RSV. Not to sound like a broken record but I strongly advise returning to masks for the winter. There are three highly contagious viruses running around right now and masks are a first line of defense.

Some good news, if not RSV good news – the new Covid boosters are performing better against the current omicron variants. Hey, we’ll take what we can get, right? And please make sure you get your kids boosted. Response has been underwhelming so far.

Photo: credit: Vlada Karpovich, Yaroslav Shuraev and Rodnae Productions of Pexels

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30 Responses to “RSV cases in seniors are surging across US hospitals”

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  1. Enny says:

    My daughter just had RSV. It is no joke. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to endure as an older adult.

  2. Jekelly118 says:

    My kindergartener was just diagnosed with RSV and strep yesterday. The school nurse told my husband its going around her school. She’s miserable and i can’t imagine being a high risk person having it.

    • Soapboxpudding says:

      Hi-risk person here and it’s been rough. I’m in my mid-40s with asthma and an auto-immune disease and the last 30+ months have been the longest I’ve ever gone without getting sick and it was miraculous. I love masks and will probably continue to wear them in public places for the rest of my life. I have not missed struggling to breath, not sleeping and coughing til I almost puke several times a year.

      • BrainFog 💉💉💉😷 says:

        @soapboxpudding same situation here. 40s, auto-immune disease. I was sick all. the. time before covid and now it’s the opposite. Haven’t been sick since this started and I will probably never stop wearing masks whereever I can.

  3. Still In My Robe says:

    My months old niece just spent a day in the ER with RSV. It’s terrifying for everyone. And I’m currently fighting a pretty terrible cold—who knows what it is. We all have as many vaccines and boosters as we’re eligible for this year and have definitely returned to masks in most indoor settings. Stay well, everyone.

  4. Fineskylark says:

    My late 60s aged aunt (who runs half marathons and is generally in pretty good shape)caught RSV from her grandson this summer and it made her so sick. it is no joke!

  5. Nicegirl says:

    Worried. I’m have been wondering if this is a thing, damn. Not great news. I hope everyone’s seniors stay safe. My folks are in nomad land, at the southern border; they just texted that ‘it’s cold and we have a cold’. Thank you for this, important.

  6. Twin Falls says:

    I have cold right now. I know it’s not the flu (too slow ramping up and no fever) or Covid (tested) but is it RSV? I’m not deathly ill so it’s probably just a regular cold but I’m really over all of the mental stress germs bring now.

  7. Becks1 says:

    I’m worried about this for my mom. She has been hospitalized in the past with pneumonia and is having more breathing issues as she gets older, I can see RSV hitting her hard. I think she and my dad are starting to mask up again though.

    i have not gotten my flu shot yet or my second booster (no reason, I just keep forgetting to make an appointment.) I’m hoping that by saying that it will prompt me after the bus stop to make that appointment lol.

  8. StellainNH says:

    I haven’t stopped wearing my mask in stores or in crowds. Granted, I’m probably one of a couple who do.

    With all these viruses going around, masks are a good idea.

    • DeeSea says:

      It’s astounding how little masking there is anymore where I live (and we were one of the most mask-compliant regions during the bulk of the pandemic). I’m gonna keep on masking until these numbers go down. I don’t want to be responsible for compounding the problem, and I don’t want to risk getting RSV, which sounds terrible.

      • Lionel says:

        Yep. I still mask most places indoors, and I’m relatively healthy. I also currently have some sort of non-COVID high fever and cough combo that is miserable. I’ll be fine, but I’d like to avoid feeling like this again. Why are people so perfectly complacent with the idea of getting sick? Even with “just a cold?”

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      StellainNH, I’m continuing to mask as are my friends. We live in a highly compliant mask state, but those who are still masking up and few. I hope people get a clue, because they’ve been tell us this winter would be bad. Keep healthy, everyone!

      Lionel, take care of yourself, but if you get worse, please go to an emergency clinic. There’s so much out there you really don’t want to mess around with it. The high fever concerns me.

  9. BillyPilgrim says:

    I still mask up everywhere I go.
    Few in my area do though.

    • HoofRat says:

      I’m starting to see a few more masks in my area, now that RSV is cutting a huge swathe through local schools. Our provincial health department won’t mandate them, even though school boards are requesting it. So yeah, it’s gonna be a long scary winter

  10. RMS says:

    I have an immune-system based cancer, so I am vaccinated to the eyeballs for EVERYTHING. I got RSV during a trip home to Mexico and it was BAD BAD BAD. I ended up flying home early and thank goodness because I spiked a fever and went to below 90 oxygen levels the day after I got on US soil. It has taken me 4 weeks to recover and this isn’t something I would wish on anyone. I masked on the flights and in the airports and all over the place in Mexico, but caught this during one luncheon with old lady friends of mine. Someone brought something other than crudités and 3 of us ended up in the hospital.

    • Cupcake Riot says:

      I’m in a similar boat. Immune system based cancer, and an asthmatic to boot. I’m a healthcare worker. I mask everywhere. My facility notified us today that there’s a shortage of RSV/flu tests. We might be able to get more in…. December/January. Maybe. It’s terrifying. Our flu admissions have outnumbered everything else currently.

  11. LW says:

    My 11 year old had RSV three weeks ago and has asthma (not severe asthma). It’s been awful with the cough. Two weeks of breathing treatments, unable to sleep from the coughing fits, throwing up from coughing fits. He got put on prednisone this week and that finally (fingers crossed) seems to be helping! It’s no joke!

    • Alice says:

      My 6 year old son has mild asthma and we are all struggling to get over RSV. He had the same as your son, unable to sleep from coughing (me as well, it’s brutal), throwing up from coughing fits. We’re still early in figuring out managing his asthma which seems to mainly be set off by colds/viruses. Do you mind me asking what you mean by breathing treatments? We have been giving him his rescue inhaler regularly to help and are trying to get in to a doctor but it’s absolutely crazy where we live. Massive outbreak and all doctors/hospitals are overwhelmed so managing at home as much as possible.

      • LW says:

        It sounds exactly the same as my son. He never has/had traditional “asthma attacks” he would always just have awful coughs associated with viruses and with weather changes (fall and spring where we live). We thought he was about grown out of it, but this has thrown him for a loop.

        We have an at-home nebulizer to do breathing treatments of albuterol that our pediatrician prescribed. Anytime he gets any kind of respiratory illness we start in on the nebulizer 2 times a day and then his inhaler two times a day. Usually that keeps us ahead of it, but this time he ended up needing a five day course of prednisone. After the third days it’s REALLY helped! We also do Vick’s vapo rub on his chest and soles of his feet with socks over while he sleeps. You’re right, it’s all just a learning process. Maybe some of those things that worked for us will work for your son!

    • Alice says:

      Thank you SO much! I wish I could pick your brain in person haha. It’s such a learning curve. You’re the first person I’ve talked to whose child also doesn’t have traditional asthma attacks and is hit hard and triggered by viruses. Right now he uses his orange inhaler 2/day and blue as needed, but it doesn’t seem to help much. I’ll ask our family doctor about a nebulizer and see if he thinks that is a good option for him. I really, really appreciate your insight! It’s hard with his age and trying to figure it all out amidst a pandemic and everything that has followed. Every time he starts to cough my heart just drops.

  12. Lucy says:

    Some friends are pediatric nurses, here in Dallas we ran out of pediatric hospital beds in October. It was rsv mostly, and flu.

    I thought there was some kind of rsv vaccine coming though? There’s one that’s intended for pregnant women that gives the baby protection, I think it’s supposed to be out next year. And my bestie had three preemie babies, they qualified for an rsv vaccine. It’s just rare because they’re expensive and insurance didn’t want to cover it.

    • Fran says:

      The EMA (European Medicines Agency) was the first agency to approve Beyfortus which is a vaccine for kids at risk. Approval from the EMAvfor a different vaccine aimed to protect adults for 60 years of age has been requested.

  13. K says:

    Mask,mask, mask. RSV seems so similar to Covid. Ugh. Be safe everyone.

  14. Caroline Johnson says:

    I’m a pediatric nurse here in Nebraska, and what we are seeing right now is terrifying. These kids are getting really sick, and because we are a very red state (IT SUCKS SO BAD HERE), that no one is wearing masks and they refuse to social distance and stay home. It has been exhausting and overwhelming, and there is no end in sight. Wash your hands, wear your masks, and get your flu/COVID shots!

  15. Lizzie Bathory says:

    The reminder I needed to go get my flu shot!

  16. one of the marys says:

    It’s not fear mongering if it’s true but unfortunately true is not objective. Even information and facts are now tools of propaganda. In Ontario masks have not been mandated but all authorities are recommending them.

  17. Bread and Circuses says:

    I have to think that part of why we’re having such a bad (and early) flu and RSV season is because anyone who caught COVID damaged their lungs and is now at higher risk when they catch something else that targets the lungs.

    Wear masks. Take care.

  18. Trillion says:

    RSV is so prevalent right now in the Bay Area that my clinic can’t keep staffed-up to adequately help others. All our single mom Medical Staff (so many single moms!) are home w/ sick little ones!