Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): Information for Providers

Epidemiologic Information

Nationally, there is a higher number of reported cases of RSV in the fall and winter of 2022-2023 compared to previous years, with corresponding increases in RSV-associated emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

Data

See CDC’s data on RSV National Trends and RSV State Trends.

For the latest NYC-level data on RSV, flu, and other respiratory viruses, see the NYC Weekly Influenza Surveillance Reports. For past data, see EpiQuery.


Testing

With multiple co-circulating respiratory viruses, diagnostic testing for influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and other respiratory viruses can help guide treatment and clinical management. Consider diagnostic testing for patients with suspected respiratory virus infections, particularly among hospitalized patients, those with factors placing persons at high risk for severe outcomes from flu and COVID-19, and those with severe or progressive illness.

Several laboratory tests are available for confirming RSV infection, including:

  • Real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR), which is more sensitive than culture and antigen testing
  • Antigen testing, which is highly sensitive in children but not sensitive in adults

Less commonly used tests include:

  • Viral culture
  • Serology, which is usually only used for research and surveillance studies

Providers should consult experienced laboratorians for more information on interpretation of results.


Treatment

Most cases of RSV will resolve without treatment. For supportive care, inform patients and parents to:

  • Manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (Never give aspirin to children.)
  • Drink enough fluids. It is important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration.

For prevention, a medication called palivizumab (Synagis) may be given monthly to high-risk infants and young children with certain underlying medical conditions. Palivizumab is given in monthly intramuscular injections during the RSV season.

For more information on palivizumab, see the American Academy of Pediatrics' Updated Guidance for Palivizumab Prophylaxis Among Infants and Young Children at Increased Risk of Hospitalization for Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection.


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