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Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are surging in the community

Doctors are urging people to get immunised against the flu, especially the vulnerable and pregnant mothers, amid growing concerns that vaccination rates have plummeted, and with the start of winter.

At the time of writing, NSW alone has seen a 66 percent increase in influenza across the community in the past week.

Doctors are also warning about a worrying increase in the number of children arriving at hospitals, especially in Victoria, with both the flu and RSV.

Most cases of illness caused by RSV are mild, but it can lead to serious illness for young children, the elderly and people who are immunosuppressed.

RSV can lead to bronchiolitis and pneumonia. It can also cause ear infections and the coughing associated with the illness can worsen asthma symptoms.

What are the symptoms of RSV?

According to NSW Health the symptoms usually begin around 5 days after exposure to the virus and can get worse over the first 3 to 4 days of the illness before an improvement. Symptoms can include:

  • runny nose
  • cough
  • sneezing
  • fever
  • ear infection (less common)

RSV can also cause wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration recently announced the approval of the first RSV vaccine for use in the United States. The vaccine, Arexvy, is approved for the prevention of lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in individuals 60 years of age and older. Arexvy was developed by GlaxoSmithKline. Other companies who are seeking official approval of RSV vaccines include Pfizer and Moderna.

Arexvy is also currently under consideration by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia.

Further information

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) fact sheet – NSW Health

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