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As pandemic restrictions ease, doctors see spike in respiratory syncytial virus

This is a virus usually found in children, but doctors are also seeing this respiratory illness in adults in Northeast Florida.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — As pandemic restrictions begin to ease with more and more people getting vaccinated, doctors say they're seeing a spike in respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus.

Jacksonville doctors say it’s unusual for RSV cases to rise during this season, and that’s why we have to go back to the basics of good hygiene.

“As coronavirus infection went down, we are now seeing an increase in RSV infection, not just in Florida but in the Southern United States," says Dr. Mobeen Rathore, Chief of Infectious Disease at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. 

Rathore says RSV is a respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but RSV can be serious for infants or older adults.

“This is the virus that almost all children will get an infection by the time they are 2 years of age," Rathore says. "This infection outgrows every year. People get re-infected. Adults can get the infection. Older children can get the infection."

The CDC put out a health advisory this month about the increased activity of RSV across parts of the Southern United States.

“Nobody knows why it’s only in the Southern states," Rathore says. "The reason why CDC is pointing this out is because it’s unusual to see RSV so late in the season, and that’s why they are alerting physicians."

Rathore says he believes the reason doctors saw fewer cases of respiratory viruses during the pandemic is because we were following all the protocols to prevent the coronavirus.

“Use the commonsense things that have been talked about a lot in the pandemic. Good hand washing, wearing a mask if you’re sick, using social distancing if you’re sick," Rathore says.

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