COVID isn't the only virus making the rounds, RSV cases also on the rise

RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus respiratory virus is here too and there's an uptick in Texas. Dr. Bonnie Colville with DM Clinical in Houston says "we are seeing an uptick in RSV diagnosis in the population in general since Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, and Texas is on the list of high infection rates."

In April of 2020 RSV activity decreased rapidly, likely due to lockdown measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  And spread of RSV remained relatively low from May 2020 to March 2021.  She says we're now seeing a fairly significant outbreak.  "RSV season tends to be in the winter months, November through April, so the fact that we're having an uptick in the spring and summer months is unusual."

The virus usually targets babies age one and younger and people over 60.  But the CDC says due to reduced circulation of RSV during the winter months of 2020 - 2021, older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk since they have likely not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months.

RSV can lead to severe illness.  An average of 177,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 death every year are due to RSV in older people.  And it's the most common cause of bronchitis and pneumonia in infants.  It's also highly contagious and the infection can live on hard surfaces longer than Covid-19.

The good news is a vaccine is in the works. "Scientists have been searching for a vaccine for RSV for over a decade, and now we have a chance for a potential preventative vaccine.  It's a modified version of a harmless virus, like a cold-like virus and it sends instructions to our cells which triggers our immune system to produce antibodies against this particular virus."

It's a viral vector vaccine.  She says viral vector vaccines "have been studied since the 1970's and are well established technology."   The goal is 23,000 enrollees and they are trying to enroll 200 to 300 people at the Houston DM Clinical site.  Volunteers will be injected twice, one year apart and be studied over the course of 19 months.  The point is to research two RSV seasons.

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