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Maryland health department data shows RSV hospitalizations statewide

Health experts agree that the unseasonably early surges of RSV cases, especially among children, are a consequence of lifting COVID-19 precautions, which served to protect the public from a variety of viruses.
AP
Health experts agree that the unseasonably early surges of RSV cases, especially among children, are a consequence of lifting COVID-19 precautions, which served to protect the public from a variety of viruses.

The Maryland Health Department launched an online tracking tool so residents can stay informed about how severely Respiratory Syncytial Virus is hitting state hospitals. The graph compares hospitalization rates of years past and of previous weeks in 2022. There are 129 people hospitalized with the disease statewide.

RSV is impacting the state much sooner than in previous years. The current number of hospitalizations nearly doubles the highest rates in the last five years.

The current hospitalization rate is 3.5 people per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That rate is highly concentrated in children ages 0 to 4, with 45 per 100,000 with RSV ending up in the hospital.

RSV symptoms include runny nose, coughing, fever, aches and lethargy. For most adults, RSV is an annoyance and maybe a couple days off of work, but it can have a particularly big impact on small children.

Just a few weeks ago, hospitalizations in Maryland hit a new peak of 256 people. While that has declined, doctors are warning that Maryland is nowhere near being out of the woods in terms of winter illnesses.

Medical experts are warning that this winter may be a confluence of three diseases, wreaking havoc on those with compromised immune systems like the elderly and children. COVID, the flu and RSV have the potential to turn into what doctors are calling a “Tridemic.”

To combat the issue, Maryland already pledged $25 million to state hospitals to help expand the beds in pediatric ICUs, pay for equipment and other costs associated with RSV.

Maryland health officials are urging people to practice good hygiene to reduce the spread of the diseases.

“Wash your hands, cover your cough and if you do get sick, keep your kids home from school,” said Maryland Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Jinlene Chan. “By keeping your kids home from school when they're sick, that helps prevent the spread of illness and so that will help our hospital capacity.”

Officials are also encouraging people to get their flu shot and COVID booster.

Scott is the Health Reporter for WYPR.
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