State-by-State Tracking of RSV Now Available on the CDC Web Site

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. -- A data-sharing agreement with  Surveillance Data, Inc. (SDI) has enabled the Centers for Disease Control and  Prevention (CDC) to launch a redesigned Web site that provides data on  respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the U.S. as a whole and by individual  states. About 125,000 infants are hospitalized each year in the U.S. due to  RSV infections or co-infections and an estimated 390 RSV-associated  children's deaths occurred in 1999.* Low birth weight and prematurity  significantly increase RSV-associated mortality rates.

Until now, RSV data were reported to the CDC's National Respiratory and  Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) by less than 100 clinical  laboratories. The data were displayed for only four U.S. regions and Florida.  The data-sharing agreement with SDI's Clinical Operations division provides  the CDC with access to de-identified HIPAA-compliant SDI data from more  than 600 laboratories, allowing the RSV data to be shown by state. 

RSV is highly contagious and infects virtually all children by age 2. Most RSV  infections cause only minor upper respiratory illnesses; however, RSV is the leading cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants and children under 1 year old, with or without chronic lung disease. Although RSV affects people of all ages, children at highest risk for RSV infection are premature infants with gestation of 35 weeks or less. The elderly and others with a compromised respiratory, cardiac or immune system are also at risk.

There is no treatment or vaccine for RSV. However, there is a drug that can help protect high-risk babies from severe RSV disease, but the monthly injections only work on uninfected infants. This means that physicians and parents may be able to prevent RSV from infecting their infants by initiating drug treatment as soon as the virus is detected in their area. RSV's "high season" varies by location. Florida, for example, has one of the longest RSV seasons in the U.S.

"More comprehensive data enable us to provide a better surveillance system and provides parents, physicians and public health officials with more reliable RSV data trends and estimates of when the RSV season begins and ends," said Cathy Panozzo, MPH, coordinator of NREVSS, a laboratory-based  system that monitors patterns associated with the detection of RSV and  other viruses. "We hope that public access to statewide RSV data leads to  better patient management decisions."

The CDC published its annual report on RSV activity in the U.S. in the  Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Dec. 7, 2007, which included,  for the first time, data collected by SDI Clinical Operations.

"We are delighted that our data can help improve patient care for those who are most vulnerable to RSV and strengthen the country's RSV surveillance system" said Laurel Edelman, vice president of clinical accounts at SDI. "Pediatricians and parents can consult the NREVSS site to determine when they should start injections for an at-risk infant and when they should take measures to prevent the spread of the disease."

In addition to RSV, SDI Clinical Operations conducts clinical surveillance programs for a number of other diseases and conditions including colds, respiratory illness; influenza and allergies based on anonymized, aggregated data collected weekly from hospitals, laboratories, physician offices, health centers, pharmacies, blood banks and public health offices around the country.

*Leader S. and Kohlhase K. Recent trends in severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among US infants, 1997 to 2000. Journal of Pediatrics. November 2003:127-132.

Tips for Preventing RSV from Spreading

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) typically presents with cold-like symptoms, spreading from person to person through the air and from contact with infected surfaces. Because it can have a devastating impact, including death, on infants born prematurely, it is essential that parents act quickly to prevent their babies from becoming infected. As soon as RSV is detected in their area or other household members show cold-like symptoms parents must act immediately to protect at-risk infants by:

Initiating preventive drug treatment

Isolating the at-risk child from anyone with cold symptoms

Washing hands, combs, towels and other household objects to get eliminate the virus, which can live on surfaces for six hours

Keeping infants and children away from daycare centers