Last winter, an unprecedented wave of illness rolled across Germany. The respiratory syncytial virus is also responsible for this. The number of babies who have to be treated in a clinic because of an RS infection has increased dramatically in the past year.
According to a study in winter 2022, the number of newborns and infants who had to be treated in a clinic because of the so-called RS virus increased drastically. Extrapolated to all children living in Germany, around 17,000 children under the age of one had to be treated in hospital in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to an analysis commissioned by the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit. That is five times more than in the same period in 2018. The proportion in intensive care units has increased by 350 percent.
The study cites catch-up effects due to the corona pandemic as one of the reasons for this. The 2020/21 season for RS viruses was almost canceled due to the corona protection measures, said Thomas Fischbach, President of the Professional Association of Pediatricians. "The results show exactly what we experienced in the practices."
The failure of the 2020/21 wave and the early arrival of the very strong 2021/22 wave showed that there were significant catch-up effects. For the DAK special analysis, scientists examined data from around 786,000 children and adolescents up to the age of 17. The years 2017 to 2022 were analyzed.
You can contract respiratory syncytial virus at any age, but the pathogen is particularly important in infants and small children. It can be a simple respiratory infection, but severe courses up to death are also possible.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, the RSV wave began in October last year, and the institute now sees the wave as over. According to the RKI definition, it ended in the third week of this year. According to the RKI, the flu wave had already come to an end two weeks earlier.