Experts have warned that there could be a ‘tripledemic’ in Israel, given that a trio of viruses is rising in the country, which includes flu, COVID-19 and the lesser known RSV.
An upper respiratory virus, RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and there has been a rise in cases in Israel, America and Europe.
On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported that there had been a 31% increase in the number of patients being hospitalized due to RSV.
Since the start of October, the total number of patients hospitalized due to RSV is 696, while 229 patients have been hospitalized in the previous week.
In the first two to three years, children often catch RSV, but parents usually just refer to it as their children having a virus or not feeling well.
Similar to COVID-19, the problem occurs when it hits the at-risk ad vulnerable. There can be severe illness when it hits the elderly, young babies, or those suffering from other health complications.
These include the small airways in the lungs getting inflamed, bronchiolitis, lung infection and pneumonia.
More pneumonia and bronchiolitis is caused by RSV in children before the age of 1, as opposed to any other pathogen.
Rise in cases
Most of the time, the morbidity of RSV is spread out and the flow of serious cases can easily be handled by hospitals, but there has been a sudden increase in cases.
The RSV cases are rising in winter when there are two other major respiratory illnesses that hospitals are already dealing with, the flu and COVID-19.
Prof. Moshe Ashkenazi, the deputy director of Sheba Medical Center, and a leading pediatrician, said that Israel was dealing with the same RSV situation as North America.
He stated that the disease was spreading more wildly than it had done in the last few years. He added that there was no need to panic, but they should know that the virus can be dangerous for babies and to those suffering from heart and lung diseases.
The availability of vaccine is what sets RSV apart from COVID-19 and the flu. The latter two have vaccines that are easily available and health providers can source them easily.
While RSV also has a vaccine, it is usually administered to only those at-risk because it is a special injection that is delivered in 5 shots and it is extremely expensive.
The vaccine costs $20,000 for one individual in a season. It remains unclear as to why there has been a sudden rise in RSV, after it had declined when the COVID-19 pandemic had been at its peak.
However, medical experts believe that people have reduced immunity because they had been exposed to less viruses due to social distancing and masking.
Ashkenazi said that since people were wearing less masks, the number of RSV cases was on the rise. This theory has also been supported by science because RSV also spreads via droplets in the same way as COVID-19.
When an infected person sneezes, or coughs, it can spread to someone else, but masks helped keep it in control.