HealthDay News — Doctors are seeing a spike in severe cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among young children in Florida and Georgia, US health officials warned Tuesday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent an advisory to doctors, noting that regional increases usually predict the beginning of RSV season, “with increased RSV activity spreading north and west over the following 2–3 months.”

RSV infections can be quite serious in young children, leading to as many as 300 deaths in those younger than 5 years each year, according to the CDC. About 2 million doctor visits and 80,000 hospitalizations are also attributed to RSV in young kids. RSV-related hospitalizations in Georgia rose from 2 in 100,000 children ages 4 years and younger to 7 per 100,000 between August 5 and August 19, according to the CDC. Most of these hospitalizations were in infants.

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A new RSV shot called Beyfortus (nirsevimab) has been approved to help prevent infection in babies and at-risk toddlers. The monoclonal antibody is intended for infants younger than 8 months of age. At-risk children can get a second shot up to about 1.5 years old. The US Food and Drug Administration has also approved an RSV vaccine for pregnant women, meant to protect their newborns during the first 6 months of life.

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