RSV cases continue to climb as Minnesota health officials confirm virus-related death
State health officials have confirmed one RSV-related death in Minnesota this season.
The Minnesota Department of Health has not shared any other details about the person who died, but medical professionals say the virus is something to watch for this holiday season, particularly among children.
Dr, Liz Placzek, a physician at Children’s Minnesota, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she’s seen about 20 kids with RSV come through her clinic this week alone.
“Kids are looking really sick, really miserable,” Placzek said.
RSV, which stands for respiratory syncytial virus, attacks the lungs and airways. Symptoms include trouble breathing, coughing and congestion, and right now, more patients are getting seriously sick.
MDH data show a sharp rise in RSV hospitalizations in Minnesota over the past few weeks, with children ages 4 and younger being hospitalized at the highest rate.
“It’s the number one cause of hospitalization in kids under 1 year old and especially higher numbers in kids under 3 months,” Placzek said.
The start of this year’s surge is right between Thanksgiving and Christmas, meaning the situation could get even worse right before holiday gatherings.
“It’s not the best timing, but we have things that are in our control,” Placzek said.
This year, for the first time ever, an RSV vaccine is available for expecting mothers who are 32 to 36 weeks along in their pregnancies. There’s also a monoclonal antibody shot for babies, which can be administered as soon as the first week of life; those, however, have been in short supply.
Sanofi, the pharmaceutical company that makes the monoclonal shot, acknowledged in a statement that demand “has been higher than anticipated.”
MDH officials say about 5,000 doses of the RSV shot have been given to Minnesota children so far. Since that shot is harder to come by, MDH recommends pregnant moms get the other vaccine, which is more readily available.