Scientists believe that the spread of RSV was influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, namely quarantine restrictions and there has been a surprising surge in cases.
Doctors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Japan have reported massive infections with a little-known respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among children, which causes respiratory illness.
According to the head of the department of children’s infectious diseases of one of the hospitals in New York, Rabia Agha, cases of infection of infants and children with the new virus occurred in April, due to which the intensive care units were immediately overcrowded.
“With the measures we had for Covid, people were not meeting, people were not travelling, and people were being very careful with masking and distancing,” says Agha.
“And that truly helped to keep Covid as well as all other viruses at bay. So, one season of this RSV was completely missed. And if you skip one season, then you are not producing antibodies against it, and mothers are not producing antibodies that can then be passed on to babies.”
Scientists believe the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the spread of RSV, as children have not developed immunity against the virus due to quarantine restrictions. The spike in the incidence occurred after the quarantine was eased.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that most children have the virus mildly – like a cold with a runny nose and cough. But in some, it can cause bronchiolitis and inflammation of the lower lungs.
The virus’s strange behaviour appears to be an indirect consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, doctors say. Last year, lockdowns and hygiene measures suppressed the spread of coronavirus, but also other viruses such as RSV. As a result, children did not have the opportunity to build up immunity against them.
Once the measures were loosened, RSV found a large pool of susceptible babies and children to infect, leading to sudden surges at unexpected times.
A previously fairly predictable bug turned into one that could surprise hospitals and families at any time of the year.
The unseasonal outbreaks stretched wards to their limits, put families on alert, and showed just how deeply Covid-19 and the associated measures had reshaped the world.
In late August, India experienced an outbreak of an unknown disease with a high mortality rate among children. Patients complain that they wake up drenched in sweat and with a high fever.