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Amid severe RSV season, Arizona reports slight drop in new cases

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, hit Arizona  unseasonably early this year and cases have been  surging exponentially. But for the first time in eight weeks, the state health department is reporting a slight decrease in new infections. 

The  Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed more than 1,517 RSV cases this week. That’s more than 20 times what’s typical for this time of year. But it is about a 3% drop from last week.

“I think we do see some promising signs with the numbers that we got this week," Eugene Livar, assistant director for public health preparedness with the state health department, told KJZZ News. "But it’s going to take more time to kind of monitor and see how that progresses moving forward." 

Livar said the virus appears to be trending down across the U.S. South and parts of the Midwest. He hopes we might see the same happen here soon, too.

The  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list runny nose, coughing, fever and decreased appetite among RSV's symptoms. The virus is very common and it may look like a mild cold in older children, but in infants younger than 6 months, or children with asthma or other underlying health conditions, it can pose a serious risk.

In addition to high levels of RSV, Arizona is also seeing rapid spread of influenza and COVID-19,  putting pressure on the state's hospitals. There is no vaccine for RSV, but Livar said Arizonans should get up-to-date on flu shots and COVID-19 boosters during what is still a very risky season for all respiratory viruses in Arizona.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.