DENVER (KDVR) — For the last two seasons, Colorado has been outpacing the rest of the U.S. in its RSV hospitalizations.
Most infants contract RSV before the age of two. However, public health officials are eager to avoid any more hospital overload than necessary since the COVID pandemic bared some cracks in the healthcare system.
Both RSV and influenza cases have spiked nationally and in Colorado this year. Nationally, the average rate of RSV hospitalizations is about twice as high as the last three years’ average. In the Denver metro, there have been over 1,100 hospitalizations since the season began on Oct. 1.
Colorado’s rate has been dropping recently. It has fallen 32% in the last two weeks.
Even if rates are declining, the Centennial State appears to have a worse problem than the rest of the nation. Coloradans are either more likely to contract RSV or more likely to enter the hospital for it than the rest of the country.
In Colorado, there were 7.87 RSV-related hospitalizations for every 100,000 people. The U.S. rate is several times lower with 2.9 hospitalizations per every 100,000 people.
This is a turn of events this season. Colorado’s rate of RSV hospitalizations was the same as the national rate as recently as five weeks ago at the season’s dawn. Colorado’s rate started outpacing the national rate in mid-October.
“Respiratory viruses tend to peak at different times in different regions of the country. We have seen this historically with influenza, RSV, and COVID-19,” said Brian Spencer, deputy communications director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “More work needs to be done to really understand the many variables that may be contributing to the current increase in cases across multiple respiratory illnesses, but we have experienced a significantly higher number of RSV-associated hospitalizations than we typically would at this time of year in past seasons.”
This has been typical of Colorado only in the last two seasons.
In the 2018-19 and the 2019-20 seasons, Colorado’s rates were mostly in sync with the national rates, though they peaked slightly later.
Colorado’s RSV hospitalization rates overshot the U.S. rates in the 2021-22 season when they were nearly three times higher.