Hospitals are worried about child RSV this year. Here’s what to know.

6 min

Staffs at U.S. hospitals — especially in pediatric wings — have seen a sharp rise in the number of patients suffering from respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, this fall.

The virus has come earlier and hit harder than in most years, according to experts. Infectious-disease specialists worry about what will happen to the health-care system if RSV, influenza and covid-19 peak at the same time — a “tridemic,” as one expert called it.

RSV primarily affects children, but a spike would tax all parts of the medical system. As in the coronavirus pandemic’s worst days, elective surgeries could be paused again, doctors’ offices could be flooded with calls, people could fill emergency rooms.

Here’s what RSV is and why it has become such a problem on such a large scale: