AMSTERDAM - Public health agency RIVM has described the sudden surge of RS virus cases in the Netherlands as ‘an epidemic’. The number of reports of the RS virus in recent weeks has been higher than usual for this time of year, the RIVM confirmed to Nederlands Dagblad.
RS Virus is a respiratory infection caused by the respiratory syncytial virus. 21 cases of infections were recorded in the second week of June and 37 the week after that. The virus is usually active in winter. Newborn babies are particularly vulnerable to it.
Death due to RSV in children rarely occurs in the Netherlands, according to the RIVM. "Because doctors have also been alerted about the RS virus at this unusual time period, we expect to prevent additional deaths," RIVM virologist Adam Meijer told the Nederlands Dagblad.
The symptoms of the virus resemble those of a cold. In babies and toddlers, it can cause shortness of breath due to inflammation of the small airways or pneumonia. Premature babies or children with a congenital heart defect or Down syndrome have an increased risk of developing more serious forms of the disease. RSV is also a common cause of respiratory infections in elderly people with poor health.
An infection with the RS virus is difficult to prevent for children, the RIVM explained. The organization explained that washing hands more often and using paper tissues can reduce the risk.
Last winter, social distancing, limited contacts and other coronavirus measures prevented the RS virus from spreading. With the relaxation of the rules and increased number of contracts, the virus has more chance of being passed on again.