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RSV surge has reached the Cape, but hospitals are not overwhelmed

J. Junker

A surge of a respiratory infection in children known as RSV has reached Cape Cod but has not overwhelmed hospitals.

RSV stands for “respiratory syncytial virus” and usually results in mild symptoms such as nasal congestion, cough, and a low-grade fever. It is so common that nearly every child is infected with RSV at some point.

However, a surge of the virus in children under age 5 has been overwhelming hospitals in Massachusetts and nationally.

There is no vaccine against RSV.

Dr. William Agel, the chief medical officer with Cape Cod Healthcare, says the two hospitals on the Cape have been able to keep up with the increase in RSV cases so far.

“What I would tell folks out there is to help us out by trying to decrease the spread of these viruses,” he told CAI. “If your child is sick, you want to keep them at home. Avoid sending them to school where it can spread more readily.”

Dr. Agel recommends giving your child the flu and COVID vaccines because it will help them avoid getting more than one virus at once.

Washing hands regularly remains a top defense against getting sick.

Dr. Agel says it is possible that the surge is happening because small children did not build up immunity to RSV during the COVID pandemic due to isolation. But that is not certain.

He says there’s no evidence that the current surge in RSV is caused by a stronger strain of the virus.

Elsa Partan is a producer and newscaster with CAI. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.