HealthDay News — Social distancing measures in Ohio in 2020 reduced the rates of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held virtually from Oct. 8 to 11.
Osama El-Assal, M.D., Ph.D., from Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study to examine the prevalence of influenza A and B and RSV infections. Viral assay data were obtained from Oct. 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021 (during the pandemic and social distancing implementation) and were compared to pre-COVID-19 respiratory seasons: 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020.
The researchers found that the peak incidence of RSV occurred in December for the 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020 seasons (28.9 and 24.7 percent, respectively; average of 8.8 percent for both). The incidence and positivity rate for RSV was 0 percent until March 14, 2021, when the first case was detected, concurrent with social distancing measure relaxation. The peak incidence of influenza A occurred during February in 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020 (40.9 and 24.1 percent, respectively; average, 13.6 and 6.1 percent, respectively). The incidence of influenza B was low (0.3 percent) throughout 2018 to 2019 and peaked during January in the 2019 to 2020 season (24.0 percent; average, 6.8 percent). Only two isolated cases of influenza B were detected during the 2020 to 2021 season, and no cases of influenza A virus were detected through April 30, 2021.
“Face masking, and proper hygiene and isolation can be effective means to protect the vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and young children during the respiratory virus season,” El Assal said in a statement. “It can be a simple nonmedicinal way to save lives.”