It’s back-to-school season, once again. And that means it’s “bringing germs back home from school” season, as well.

It’s the perfect storm for viral infection; a combination of children being around one another in close quarters after a summer reprieve, the beginning of flu season, and various seasonal conditions.

But there’s a new wrinkle, this year.

Based on viral illness patterns over the last several years, Culex Wellness is predicting this year’s RSV season will start sooner – and be more severe – than in years before.

This year’s outbreak of Parainfluenza Type 2, for example – the culprit behind nasty bouts of the croup – arrived much earlier than in years before and was much more pronounced. In Howard County, alone, we had several children hospitalized for days and some were admitted to the ICU for lack of response to treatments.

All signs are pointing to RSV – which similarly struck earlier in 2022, and normally hits during the winter months – rearing its head much sooner. Even this fall. Just in time for school.

At Culex Wellness, preparation is everything – not simply reacting to an individual’s symptoms but trying to anticipate and address high-risk patients before their exposure.

According to Culex Wellness president Dr. Keyvan Rafei, the three most important things that affect respiratory illness are:

  1. Allergens and their predominance.
  2. Air quality conditions and the impact of pollutants (i.e., smoke stemming from Canada’s wildfires), atmospheric and air pressure changes, and temperature fluctuations.
  3. Viral load or exposure.

Viruses traditionally have a very seasonal pattern. They tend to pass from individual to individual more readily in certain climates, colder temperatures, and when people are in closer proximity, allowing respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes to spread faster.

Seasonality has shifted, however, due to various factors like climate change, and predictable viral illness patterns of fall and spring have been offset.

COVID, too, has contributed. Masking and limited exposure to others early in the pandemic affected cycles significantly, shifting what was once a normal pattern into something else.

The result? Viral illnesses such as Parainfluenza Type 2 and RSV are striking earlier, and harder.

The good news is that data-driven viral illness predictions allow the professionals at Culex Wellness to anticipate and manage symptoms.

Symptoms for these illnesses are typically worse at nighttime – when normal healthcare advisers and providers are not readily available. And if they are, parents usually receive a generic answer or remedy that fits the model for most people.

But at Culex Wellness, we anticipate symptoms before they take root, thus relieving high-risk children with heightened sensitivities to any unnecessary misery. By taking a personalized approach, we help families plan for the impact RSV could have on the lower airways of younger children – and its triggering of asthma symptoms. We proactively treat high-risk children with daily controller medications or passive immunization via antibody shots to avert severe illness, rather than wait for the full-blown outbreak before responding.

Knowing RSV may strike sooner this year helps us – and you – to plan better and navigate symptoms as they arise.