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Not Just for Kids – RSV vs Flu Impact on Adults

March 21, 2023

Written by Vivian Lei

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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is prevalent in hospitalized adults and is associated with higher odds of prolonged hospitalization and mechanical ventilation, particularly in patients with CHF and COPD.

Why does this matter?
RSV is often thought of as a disease that causes clinically significant illness in young children. However, under-testing in adults limits our understanding of its effects on certain high-risk populations.

RSV isn’t just for kids
Data were collected from the HAIVEN study, which is a prospective multi-site study of adults hospitalized with an acute respiratory illness (ARI) from September 2016 to May 2019. Among 11,311 adults hospitalized with an ARI, RSV was identified in 6.0% (n=622) and influenza in 18.8% (n=1940). 52.4% of RSV cases were in adults older than 65 years. Patients with CHF or COPD accounted for a larger share of RSV-positive infections compared to influenza (CHF 37.3% vs 28.8%; COPD 47.6 % vs 35.8%). Compared to patients with influenza, RSV-positive inpatients were at higher odds of an extended length of stay ≥8 days (OR 1.4), need for mechanical ventilation (OR 1.46) and had a high index score of chronic comorbidities (OR 2.1).

With RSV vaccines nearing FDA approval, this study suggests that patients with underlying cardiopulmonary comorbidities are an important population to target in early vaccination efforts.

Prevalence and Clinical Outcomes of Respiratory Syncytial Virus versus Influenza in Adults Hospitalized with Acute Respiratory Illness from a Prospective Multicenter Study. Clin Infect Dis. 2023 Jan 24;ciad031. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciad031. Online ahead of print.

What are your thoughts?