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Editor's Note: This blog was published prior to the transition to WebMD Ignite.

An unprecedented increase in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is overwhelming hospitals and sending many young children to emergency rooms.

On Oct. 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director tweeted that respiratory viruses, including the flu and RSV, are surging. Data from the CDC shows the percentage of those testing positive for RSV has more than doubled over the past month – straining the capacity of children's hospitals as they try to care for the sickest patients.1

To help break down all the latest information on this growing issue, a recent WebMD Health News article (What the RSV Surge Means for Doctors and Patients) shared what’s behind the surge and how to educate parents.2

What's behind the surge in RSV cases?

The article notes that according to the CDC, RSV was almost nonexistent in 2020, when pandemic prevention methods nearly knocked the virus out of circulation.3 But the COVID pandemic means that some children born over the past couple of years were never exposed to RSV.

The loosening of pandemic control measures coupled with a much more susceptible younger population is a “perfect storm” for this outbreak, Christopher J. Harrison MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, reported to WebMD.2

Educating parents and caregivers

The article also highlighted how healthcare providers and health plans can educate parents and caregivers, including:

  • Emphasizing the ABCs of disease prevention when it comes to RSV, such as avoiding crowds, staying home when sick, and hand washing
  • Teaching parents to recognize when symptoms can be managed at home, and when to take a child to the ER.

WebMD Ignite has specific patient education content on RSV and respiratory illnesses. These resources can be used to educate parents and caregivers at the point of care and as part of health plan member outreach – or while individuals are researching information available from your organization. This education can help clarify diagnoses, support shared decision-making, and build a trusted relationship. See our options for health consumer Content Solutions, and see how keeping your patients up-to-date can be made easy.


1. https://www.cdc.gov/surveillance/nrevss/images/trend_images/RSV124PP_Nat.htm

2. https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20221025/what-the-rsv-surge-means-doctors-patients

3. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/research/us-surveillance.html