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Amid the Flu Epidemic, Don't Forget RSV in Young Children
Date:11/22/2009

our data show morbidity to be very high from RSV. Based on our data, much more should be done in terms of prevention."

The RSV season begins in October, but generally doesn't peak until January and lasts through April/May, so it will become more visible in the coming months, she adds.

Bourgeois and colleagues prospectively studied children aged 7 and under visiting the Children's Hospital Boston ED with acute respiratory illnesses during five consecutive seasons (2001-2006) - an average of 5,288 visits each year. A subgroup of children underwent viral testing; 23.6 percent were found to have RSV and 11.2 percent had influenza. To quantify additional healthcare visits and missed school and work days, the researchers conducted standardized interviews with 210 parents whose children had documented RSV or flu.

Using census data and data on pediatric acute respiratory illness from the National Hospital and Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, Bourgeois and colleagues were able to extrapolate their data nationally and determine population-based rates of RSV and flu illnesses. They estimate that 21.5 ED visits per 1,000 children were attributable to RSV, as compared with 10.2 per 1,000 for seasonal flu. Children under age 2 with RSV had the most visits - 64.4 per 1,000. Estimated hospitalization rates were 8.5 per 1000 for RSV, versus 1.4 per 1000 for flu. Nationally, caregivers missed an estimated 716,404 workdays each year for RSV and 246,965 for flu.

Although the study only looked at children age 7 and younger, the researchers believe their findings are relevant to older age groups, since young children drive transmission of viral infections, the researchers say. Recent hospitalization and mortality data indicate that, like flu, RSV disproportionately affects elderly persons.*

While H1N1 may change the equation this year - there are indications that it's causing a greater burden of illness than seasonal flu - we shoul
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