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Maryland launches RSV hospital data dashboard

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CBS News Baltimore Live

BALTIMORE -- The Maryland Department of Health launched a hospitalization data dashboard Wednesday for the rapidly-spreading Respiratory Syncytial Virus, commonly known as RSV. 

Officials said the state has seen an early surge of severe respiratory illnesses, particularly in children. 

The dashboard displays hospitalizations by respiratory season and will update every Thursday. There are currently 129 RSV hospitalizations in the state, according to the dashboard. 

Doctors say they are observing a decrease in RSV cases, but urge caution. The Greater Baltimore Medical Center said at one point they had to send children with the virus out of state for treatment.

Now, that trend is taking a turn, as doctors say they are observing a decrease in RSV cases.  

The hospitalizations peaked between October 2 and November 5, with hospitalizations reaching 256. 

"Maryland has seen an early surge of severe respiratory illness, especially in very young and school-age children," said MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Jinlene Chan. "Many children recover at home within a week or two, but others can get seriously ill and require hospitalization."   

The virus can cause cold-like symptoms for many children, but some vulnerable populations are at a higher risk of severe illness that could lead to hospitalization.

While there is no vaccination or treatment for RSV, over-the-counter medicines can help, the health department said. Doctors say parents can reduce the risk by washing hands frequently, avoiding exposure and keeping surfaces clean. 

Symptoms include fever, coughing, wheezing, change or loss of appetite and fatigue. Young children may also have difficulty breathing. 

Last month, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced $25 million in funding to help care for the increase of RSV hospital admissions.

RSV is part of a 'triple-demic' threat this fall along with the flu and COVID-19. State officials urge residents to get their flu and COVID-19 shots to protect themselves. 

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