These States Are Seeing an Unusual Summertime Spike in RSV Cases

Here’s what to know and how to keep baby safe and healthy.
save article
profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
By Nehal Aggarwal, Editor
Published August 30, 2021
baby sick with fever and crying while mom touches forehead
Image: Getty Images

If you’re a parent to young children, you may be hearing a lot of talk of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, more commonly known as RSV. RSV is a contagious virus that can look a lot like a cold, with symptoms including congestion, dry cough, sore throat and a low-grade fever, but is more easily spread and can extend into the lungs. It’s also really common, and the CDC estimates all babies will have likely had the virus by the time they’re 2. Typically, RSV season is seen alongside cold and flu season, from the months of November through March. However, according to the CDC cases have been on the rise this summer.

RSV cases initially spiked in June. At the time, the CDC reported that RSV was spreading in southern states including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The CDC encouraged broader testing for RSV among patients who had acute respiratory illness or tested negative for COVID-19.

“In the United States, RSV infections occur primarily during the fall and winter cold and flu season. In April 2020, RSV activity decreased rapidly, likely due to the adoption of public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the organization said in a health advisory. “Compared with previous years, RSV activity remained relatively low from May 2020 to March 2021. However, since late March, CDC has observed an increase in RSV detections reported to the National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS), a nationwide passive, laboratory-based surveillance network.”

In recent weeks, according to the CDC’s data, the health departments in some midwestern states, including Iowa and Ohio, have also been seeing an increase in RSV cases, with over 100 cases in each state. Plus, Texas has seen over 1,000 cases in the past five weeks.

So how can parents keep their kids from getting it? Dina DiMaggio, MD, pediatrician and official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, explains many of the preventative measures are similar to those of COVID-19.

“We…are seeing a surge that corresponds with the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions,” she says. “To keep children safe from RSV the best strategies are to cover coughs [and] sneezes with a tissue, wash hands with soap [and] water for 20 seconds, clean frequently touched surfaces that might hold germs like favorite toys, and avoid having your child go to daycare [or] school if sick.”

A few more helpful tips? Keep baby away from people who may be sick; don’t share cups or utensils; avoid crowded places; and keep sick siblings away.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List

Next on Your Reading List

newborn baby sneezing while in baby bouncer
Why Newborn Sneezing Is Totally Normal
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
mother touching baby's lips
Why Your Newborn Might Have a Lip Blister
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
First Days Home With Baby: Signs to Call the Doctor
First Days Home With Baby: Signs to Call the Doctor
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
cold and flu medication and hot tea on wooden table at home
What to Know About Taking Cold Medicine While Breastfeeding
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Best Baby Nasal Aspirators-hero
The Best Baby Nasal Aspirators for Stuffy Noses
By Kelsey Paine
baby crying due to hand foot mouth disease
How to Prevent and Treat Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
doctor checking baby's throat
Can Babies Get Strep Throat?
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
baby coughing
What to Do When Baby Has a Cough
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
mother holding crying baby
Everything to Know About the Flu in Babies
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
baby sleeping in mother's arms at home
How to Treat a Baby Fever
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
Mom holding sick baby
How to Detect and Treat Sore Throat in Babies and Toddlers
By Kristina Cappetta
mother comforting baby while breastfeeding at home
Everything to Know About Newborn and Baby Congestion
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
Best Baby Thermometers
The Heat Is on: the Best Baby Thermometers for Your Needs
By Martina Garvey
child standing outside holding inhaler for asthma
RSV in Baby’s First Year Could Raise Their Risk of Asthma, Study Says
By Wyndi Kappes
mother cuddling baby that is sick with a cold at home on the couch
Sniffles Be Gone: How to Treat a Baby Cold
By Celia Shatzman
Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin from the home edit
The Home Edit Stars Dish on How Busy Parents Can Get Organized
By Ashlee Neuman
mother taking toddler's temperature
Cold vs. COVID: Difference in Symptoms and When to Get Tested
By Nehal Aggarwal
Dad comforting and holding baby.
How to Detect and Treat Thrush in Babies
By Korin Miller
Toddler drinking water from a bottle.
Mom Tells Parents to “Trust Your Gut” After Toddler’s Scary E.R. Visit
By Nehal Aggarwal
Former bachelor star Lesley Anne Murphey holds her baby with her fiance.
Bachelor Alum Warns Parents About Common Virus Affecting Infants
By Nehal Aggarwal
Article removed.