PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon is officially in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, season.
The latest data from the Oregon Health Authority show that as of Oct. 29, Oregon met the criteria for the onset of the RSV season, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC defines the RSV season onset after two consecutive weeks when the mean positivity rate of antigen RSV tests is 10% or higher or when the positivity rate for PCR tests is 3% or higher.
During the week of Oct. 23-29, Oregon’s positivity rate for antigen RSV tests was 16.1% and for PCR tests it was 7.6%.
The week before that, antigen tests had a positivity rate of 12.1% and for PCR tests it was 4%.
In a statement, OHA said the timing of Oregon’s RSV season onset is tracking closely with the onset in the 2021-2022 season.
“RSV activity is increasing, however, Oregon is not experiencing extreme RSV levels reported in several other jurisdictions. We will continue to monitor RSV activity and are working closely with health care systems to monitor capacity,” said Erica Heartquist, a public health division communications officer for Oregon Health Authority.
In other parts of the United States, hospitals have reported being overwhelmed by children sick with RSV.
Oregon Health & Science University doctors say the spike is being fueled by changes in weather and the return to school and other indoor activities.
RSV usually peaks between December and February, but physicians are seeing early cases of it in 2022.
Although it can be particularly dangerous to young children, RSV typically presents itself with cold-like symptoms.
People infected with RSV typically show symptoms within four to six days after they’re infected. Symptoms usually include a runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever or wheezing.
Serious symptoms that might require emergency medical treatment include trouble breathing, trouble eating due to rapid breathing, wheezing, severe dehydration or lethargy.
The people at greatest risk for severe illness from RSV include young infants, especially those 6 months and younger, children younger than 2 who have chronic conditions or weakened immune systems, pregnant people and older adults.
Doctors at OHSU said the best thing parents can do is continue to practice good health and hygiene, including frequent handwashing, avoiding contact with anyone who is sick and staying up to date on all vaccines, even though there is currently not a vaccine available for RSV.
OHA also suggests people wear masks.
Pfizer announced Tuesday that a large international study found that vaccinating pregnant women was nearly 82% effective at preventing severe cases of RSV in their babies’ first 90 days of life.
The company said it’s possible one or more vaccines might become available before the fall 2023 season.
The Association Press contributed to this report.