190 new RSV cases confirmed in New Brunswick

Health officials believe RSV infections dropped during COVID-19 protective measures, such as masking and physical distancing, and now children who weren't exposed are all being exposed at the same time. (Syda Productions/Shutterstock - image credit)
Health officials believe RSV infections dropped during COVID-19 protective measures, such as masking and physical distancing, and now children who weren't exposed are all being exposed at the same time. (Syda Productions/Shutterstock - image credit)

Another 190 New Brunswickers have tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in one week, according to the latest figures posted by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

A total of 653 people in the province have now tested positive, as of Dec. 17 — a 41 per cent jump over the previous week.

By comparison, the provincial total at the same time during the 2021-22 season was 171.

There were no confirmed cases as of the same week in 2020-21, when COVID-19 protective measures, such as masking and distancing, were in place, and there were 85 cases pre-pandemic in 2019-20.

RSV, which infects the lungs and respiratory tract, can result in severe infection in some people, including infants, older adults, and adults with heart or lung disease or with weakened immune systems.

Not a reportable disease in N.B.

Although the province inputs RSV lab results into the national respiratory virus detection surveillance system weekly, it's not a reportable disease in New Brunswick, unlike some other jurisdictions. That means the province does not monitor and report on RSV cases in the same ways that it does for COVID-19 and the flu.

Dr. Yves Léger, the acting chief medical officer of health, has said this is largely because it's a common childhood illness that most children will contract by the time they reach the age of two.

But he told reporters in November that Public Health would look at the list of reportable diseases in the "near future" to determine if RSV should be added.

There were 2,810 RSV tests conducted during the week ending Dec. 17, putting the positivity rate at about 6.8 per cent.

That's lower than the national positivity rate of 8.6 per cent for that week, according to the respiratory virus report.

"After many weeks of consistent activity, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is showing signs of increase at the national level," with 2,795 new lab-confirmed cases, the report says.

"Compared to pre-pandemic seasons, RSV activity is near average levels typical of this time of year."

Nova Scotia had 181 lab-confirmed cases during the week in question, and a positivity rate of 7.9 per cent.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, there were 16 new cases, a positivity rate of 2.1 per cent, and P.E.I. saw 10 people diagnosed, for a positivity rate of 6.2 per cent.

Since the season began on Aug. 28, a total of 13,663 RSV tests have been conducted in New Brunswick, for a positivity rate of about 4.8 per cent.