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RSV virus spreading fast in New South Wales with cases up TENFOLD in less than a month 

A potentially deadly vaccine-less winter virus that attacks children has exploded in Australia with cases in NSW increasing tenfold in just three weeks.

RSV – respiratory syncytial virus – is a leading cause of lung infections in children and can lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis, which is especially dangerous in young infants.

Now an expert has warned the rest of the country: ‘If it doesn’t reach you by now, it’s only a matter of time. It’s coming…’

Potentially deadly respiratory syncytial virus that attacks children and has no vaccine has exploded in NSW with the number of cases increasing tenfold in just three weeks.

Potentially deadly respiratory syncytial virus that attacks children and has no vaccine has exploded in NSW with the number of cases increasing tenfold in just three weeks.

RSV - respiratory syncytial virus - is a leading cause of lung infections in children and can lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis, which is especially dangerous in young infants.

RSV – respiratory syncytial virus – is a leading cause of lung infections in children and can lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis, which is especially dangerous in young infants.

Severe cases can kill infants and toddlers whose small airways have not yet fully formed and who have difficulty dealing with the infection.

Worldwide, nearly 120,000 children under the age of five die from the disease every year.

Infectious disease researcher Dr.  John-Sebastian Eden said the triple blow of RSV, flu and Covid was packing the emergency department at Westmead Children's Hospital in Sydney

Infectious disease researcher Dr. John-Sebastian Eden said the triple blow of RSV, flu and Covid was packing the emergency department at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney

Three weeks ago there were warnings about the disease when there were only 355 cases a week in NSW, but three weeks later that rose to 3,775 in a week.

About a fifth of those developed the potentially fatal bronchiolitis, 40 percent of which ended up in the hospital.

Infectious disease researcher Dr John-Sebastian Eden said the triple blow of RSV, flu and Covid was packing the emergency department at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney.

“There is a widespread three-way outbreak underway,” he told the Daily Mail Australia. ‘International borders have opened up, causing the flu to come back and new strains of RSV to develop.

“With Covid on top of it, these are three main viruses that will lead to hospitalization.”

During Covid, RSV continued to spread and split into two separate tribes in the east and west of the country in the wake of Western Australia’s prolonged isolation.

Researchers were shocked by the sudden rise of the disease in the first year of lockdowns, fueled by the keeping of daycare centers open despite Covid restrictions.

“It was something we’d never seen before,” said Dr. Eden. Even in lockdown, we worked hard to keep childcare open.

“You only need a small amount of virus to build a transmission chain.”

The disease disappeared in 2021, but has now returned with the current outbreak.

dr. Eden believes cases in NSW have not yet reached their peak, but is now preparing for the outbreak to spread across the country.

He expects the disease to spread at a similar level across the southern half of the country in the coming weeks.

“What happens is where you have an outbreak in NSW and we have all these people traveling from there to other states, it then feeds outbreaks in other parts,” he said.

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Three weeks ago there were warnings about the disease when there were only 355 cases a week in NSW, but three weeks later that rose to 3,775 in a week.

“So if it hasn’t started in those areas now, it will be on the map in the coming weeks.”

He said parents should watch out for typical symptoms that can be nearly identical to the flu or even Covid, but RSV patients often had no temperature.

“The fact that there is no vaccine for RSV is the main difference and the concern for parents,” he said.

“Children with bronchiolitis can have chronic consequences, such as long-term asthma or wheezing.”

He said parents with affected children should try to keep them isolated until they recover to help stop the spread of the disease.

But he admitted: “People don’t always follow that. It’s difficult, people have been locked up for so long and their parents have to go to work.’

dr. Eden said more testing for Covid and flu will have picked up more RSV cases than usual, but the number of hospital admissions is also worryingly much higher than usual.

NSW Health added: ‘Higher detections of RSV this year are likely to be affected by increased testing levels for respiratory viruses compared to previous years.

‘Children under the age of three are most at risk, although RSV can sometimes cause serious illness in adults, especially in older people.

“The best way to avoid spreading the infection is to always practice good respiratory hygiene.”

THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RSV

RSV is normally a winter illness, but Covid lockdowns saw an unexpected huge increase in summer cases last year.

Symptoms include a runny nose, cough, decreased diet and fever. Complications include wheezing and difficulty breathing, which can progress to pneumonia.

Like Covid, it can be transmitted through sneezing and coughing, but unlike Covid, it mainly affects young children.

“Most children will recover without specialist care in hospital, and children with a mild infection can be treated with rest at home,” pediatrician Daniel Yeoh wrote in The Conversation.

‘It is the leading cause of lung infections in children and often causes bronchiolitis.

‘Severe cases occasionally lead to death, mainly in very young infants.

Nearly all children have had an RSV infection by age two, but infants in their first year of life are more likely to have serious infections requiring hospitalization because their airways are smaller. Babies also have not built up immunity to RSV from previous years.

dr. Yeoh adds: ‘Treatment for RSV aims to help children breathe (eg giving oxygen) and feeding (eg giving fluids through an IV)’.

There is no vaccine for RSV, but several are in development.

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