California’s RSV spike is not unexpected, says state health official

California sees increase in RSV, a respiratory illness that can be dangerous for babies and young children

(Newser) – California has seen a spike in respiratory syncytial virus cases over the past few weeks—and state officials are hoping it’s not a one-off. The state already had its second-deadliest year in recent memory, but the newly diagnosed cases have added to the woes.

California has the most confirmed cases of RSV in the country, with 1,071 out of 9,200 state residents infected with the disease, which is spread by coughing and sneezing. The state’s latest cases add to the previous tally of 1,015 cases in 2014, which was among the nation’s top 10. Officials are struggling to understand the cause of the latest spike. And state health officials are asking the public to avoid shaking hands when possible, because this can spread the disease.

But the new cases mean that more Californians are infected with the flu. “Flu is an epidemic in CA right now,” one patient tells the Los Angeles Times. “We are in the second year of a pandemic, and it’s going to keep happening.”

The state health officer in charge of child care says the recent increase in RSV cases is “not unexpected.” There have been an “increase of 1,000 per month for the past eight months, or more than three times the rate of previous years, which may have contributed to the increase seen in this week’s numbers,” Public Health Director Mohnish Pancholy told the Times, referring to the total number of cases since 2014.

“And that is concerning. Children are at highest risk of flu complications, and these cases in CA continue to be the second highest in the country, and in the nation as a whole. As long as these numbers continue to grow and we don’t know why, we have to ask how the public health officials have been managing their response

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