Resurgence of Respiratory Syncytial Virus in Children: An Out-of-Season Epidemic in Portugal

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Abstract

Introduction: An out-of-season increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) incidence was observed in Portugal from June 2021 onwards, revealing a continuing surge in cases throughout 2021/2022 autumn/winter. We aimed to describe this out-of-season epidemic and define its epidemic period, by analysing RSV incidence from week 40 of 2020 (2020-W40) to week 18 of 2022 (2022-W18). Material and Methods: Surveillance data on weekly RSV laboratory confirmed cases, in Portugal, was used to monitor RSV incidence using CUSUM test methodology for count data. Results: In 2021-W23, the CUSUM score identified a significant increase in the risk of RSV. By that time, the percentage of RSV positive tests rose from 1% in 2021-W22 (3/265) to 6% in 2021-W23 (18/298). Despite a sharp decrease in RSV incidence on 2021-W33 and on 2022-W02, the CUSUM score stayed over the limit up to 2022-W07, indicating that the RSV activity remained at an epidemic level. Distinct peaks of RSV cases were observed between 2021-W30 and 2021-W32 (average of 77 RSV cases per week) and between 2021-W39 and 2021-W41 (average of 79 RSV cases per week) with positivity rates around 60%. Conclusion: An out-of-season RSV epidemic was identified, with a longer epidemic period compared with previous seasons. Possible reasons include relaxation of COVID-19 physical distancing measures and a greater proportion of population susceptible to disease. As several factors may change the pattern of RSV activity, countries should implement year-round surveillance RSV surveillance systems. These findings might have an impact on public health planning regarding future RSV surges, namely, on the palivizumab prophylaxis period for high-risk infants.

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APA

Torres, A. R., Guiomar, R., Verdasca, N., Melo, A., Rodrigues, A. P., Mota-Vieira, L., … Bruges-Armas, J. (2023). Resurgence of Respiratory Syncytial Virus in Children: An Out-of-Season Epidemic in Portugal. Acta Medica Portuguesa, 36(5), 343–352. https://doi.org/10.20344/amp.18589

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