ROCHESTER, NY – Cases of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes severe breathing problems, are on the rise in Monroe County. The county health department says RSV has killed two people over the age of 65.

In six weeks, the virus has hospitalized 238 people. 70% of the people in the hospital are 4 years old or younger.

Health leaders say there have been more than 2,200 lab-confirmed cases of RSV in the county, mostly children and teenagers. The virus puts about 80,000 children in the hospital each year in the U.S., but it can also affect older people.

“For three years, none of these babies were born infected because there was no transmission of RSV or influenza,” said Angela Branche, associate professor of medicine and infectious diseases at UR Medicine. “And because of all those mitigation strategies to reduce transmission, now when you hit the community with flu and RSV, all these babies and young children are vulnerable because they’ve never been infected and so you start seeing a lot more cases.

RSV usually causes flu-like symptoms, such as a cough or runny nose. However, it can cause severe breathing problems and lead to pneumonia, which often requires hospitalization. Learn more about protecting your family from RSV at CDC website.

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