Almost every child becomes infected with the RS virus within their first two years of life
The number of RSV infections in Germany has risen significantly in recent days. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), this means that the RSV wave has begun. The launch will be dated retroactively to the week starting November 20, as the RKI announced on Wednesday evening in its weekly report on acute respiratory diseases. RSV is the abbreviation for Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
"Children under the age of two are particularly affected by hospitalization with RSV infection," the RKI describes the current situation. In addition, according to the report, corona infections and colds caused by rhinoviruses are currently causing problems in Germany. According to the data, a flu wave is not yet in sight.
Children usually develop a runny nose and lose appetite first in the case of an RSV infection. The throat may be inflamed. "Coughing and sneezing follow, and fever often occurs," writes the Federal Center for Health Education on its website. As a result, pneumonia, among other things, is possible. In severe cases, ventilation may be necessary.
Last autumn and winter, there had been a violent wave of RSV in many countries. Many children were affected who had previously had no contact with the pathogen due to the corona pandemic and the measures taken against it. Clinics and paediatricians' surgeries were temporarily overloaded. For this winter, German experts had expected a more normal wave again.
The risk groups
Risk groups for severe RSV include premature babies, children with pre-existing lung diseases or heart defects, adults over 65 and people with impaired immune systems. Basically, you can get sick at any age and become infected repeatedly.
The first RSV vaccine has been approved for the protection of infants for a few months now, but a recommendation from the Standing Committee on Vaccination (Stiko) based at the Robert Koch Institute is still pending. In the vaccine, the mother is vaccinated during pregnancy so that she can transmit antibodies to the baby via the placenta. The authorisation also applies to people aged 60 and over who are to be protected from infection.
According to the RKI, the spread of RSV in the population has been underestimated for a long time. A reporting obligation is still relatively new.