Mother on a mission to find a bone marrow donor for her son

Courtesy of the Ramirez family

(NEW YORK) — Seven-year-old Jax Ramirez was born a “typical little boy,” according to his mom — but now, he’s one in 1.6 million.

Due to an extremely rare genetic disease, he dreams of the day he can attend school in person — and with a bone marrow transplant, he may have the chance.

“He’s a cyber student,” his mother, Missy Ramirez, said. “He just hops on [Zoom] every day with a smile. He’s loving. He loves his friends. His biggest wish is that he someday can see his friends in person.”

Jax was diagnosed with IPEX syndrome last year. The symptoms of the autoimmune disease include diarrhea, diabetes and eczema in young patients, according to the National Center for Advancing Translation Sciences.

The only potential treatment for the disease is a bone marrow transplant. More than a year after his diagnosis, Jax is still searching for his life-saving donor.

To help continue to raise awareness of the bone marrow registry, GMA is partnering with Be The Match in our “One Match, Second Chance” series to continue to raise awareness and to help save lives. Learn how to take the first step to sign up to become a donor today.

Missy Ramirez said symptoms became noticeable when her son was about 2 and a half years old, and he started to have fits of “rapid breathing.” Jax was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“Nobody in my family has Type 1 diabetes. This is not something that I would have ever put on my mom radar,” she said. “It just didn’t sit well with me.”

Missy Ramirez said other things began to “pop up” and that her son seemed to get gravely ill, too easily.

“We would always end up in the hospital,” she said. “It was never just a little tiny cold.”

She said the common hand, foot and mouth disease turned into a hospital stay for Jax. Then, a runny nose from the flu precipitously turned into a weeklong medically induced coma.

“I had been researching people, doctors, specialists to help me find what the answer was because I knew it just couldn’t be bad luck anymore,” Missy Ramirez said.

Jax was eventually diagnosed with IPEX syndrome in October 2021. Missy Ramirez said they quickly discovered that there were no matches for her son on the bone marrow registry.

“The more diverse you are, the worse the outcomes are simply because there’s not enough representation of people of color on the registry,” she said.

“It was that moment I decided that I can’t just sit by idly hoping that somebody will just magically join this registry and save my son,” she added.

Missy Ramirez and a few close friends started The Match for Jax, a foundation to find a match for her son and others like him. Nearly a year later, the group has registered more than 4,000 people in her son’s honor, but they’re still looking for Jax’s match.

“Every family should have a match. Every person of color should have a voice,” she said. “Every person should be represented and every person should have a second chance at life.”

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3 ways you may be able to boost your vaccine response

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(NEW YORK) — With winter fast approaching, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s never too late to get a flu shot and a COVID-19 booster. Now, doctors are sharing tips on how to make your vaccine go the extra mile.

According to several studies, sleeping well after vaccination, getting vaccinated in the morning and not pre-medicating with new over-the-counter medications could help boost immunity.

But the most important thing, doctors say, is to get vaccinated no matter the circumstances because vaccines will still work to dramatically reduce the risk of severe illness. For those who are able, doctors say there are a few tricks that may give an extra small immunity boost after a shot.

Sleep is associated with a stronger immune system. One study showed that sleep after Hepatitis A vaccination doubled the number of immune cells formed in response to the vaccine.

“People with chronic sleep loss have higher levels of inflammation and are relatively more immunosuppressed,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease physician at the University of California San Francisco. “Getting a vaccine regardless of sleep is better than not getting a vaccine at all.”

One 2012 study showed that those who slept less than six hours after receiving a Hepatitis B vaccination were less likely to have the appropriate immune response. A similar study showed that inadequate sleep after an influenza vaccine also resulted in an inadequate immune response. Inadequate sleep before vaccination has its risks. Shorter sleep duration two nights before influenza vaccination has been shown to lead to poorer immune response that lasts months afterward.

Time of day for vaccination also influences immunity; those who got vaccinated in the morning had greater immunity. One study showed that getting COVID-19 vaccines in the morning led to a stronger immune response than those who received afternoon vaccinations.

Humans have a natural internal clock and levels of our immune cells vary in activity throughout the course of the day.

“Get a vaccine when it is most convenient to you. Immune cells circulate around the body 24/7. But if you can prioritize getting it in the morning, you may get a small advantage,” said Chin-Hong.

If you do not take over-the-counter medications regularly, be cautious about taking them before a vaccine. Some people take anti-fever medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin before a shot.

“Both Tylenol and NSAIDs like ibuprofen may prevent inflammation and theoretically reduce the ability of the immune system to respond to a vaccine,” said Chin-Hong.

Some prior studies found that taking these medications before getting a vaccination may reduce immune response.

All things considered, “the most important thing is to get the vaccines,” said Chin-Hong.

Alicia Zellmer, MD, and Joy Liu, MD, are resident physicians in internal medicine and members of the ABC News Medical Unit.

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How to stay safe and healthy this Thanksgiving

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(NEW YORK) — Americans will soon be gathering for Thanksgiving, celebrating the holiday semi-normally for the first time in more than two years.

However, it comes at a time when respiratory viruses are surging across the United States. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, have risen from 14,824 the week ending Oct. 29 to 16,512 the week ending Nov. 5.

Similarly, the CDC estimates that cases of influenza increased by 1.6 million cases last week, now totaling over 4.4 million this season.

Additionally, although COVID-19 infections have plateaued in recent months, CDC data shows that transmission rates in previous years picked up around late November.

As families gather, they may wonder if they should make sure they test negative beforehand, mask while with their loved ones, invite unvaccinated family members — or even gather at all?

ABC News spoke to public health experts who offered advice on how to have as safe of a holiday celebration as possible.

“We want to keep you safe during this holiday time period, if it’s RSV, if it’s flu, if it’s COVID,” Dr. Rebecca Weintraub, a physician and assistant professor in the department of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News. “All of the routine viruses are showing their muscle this season. They are ready and prepared, and we need to be just as prepared so that we can gather as much as possible in person with our loved ones.”

Make sure you’re up to date on your vaccines

The experts recommend before gathering being up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots.

For Americans aged 5 and older, they can receive the bivalent booster, which protects against BA.4 and BA.5, subvariants of the original omicron variant. For those under age 5, only the primary vaccine series is available.

For the flu, the CDC recommends everyone over 6 months old get vaccinated. If a child is aged 8 or younger and has never received a flu vaccine dose better, they should consider getting two doses.

“I think a lot of people are going to be seeing their parents,” Dr. Perry Halkitis, dean of Rutgers School of Public Health, told ABC News. “And people my age have older parents. Older people are more likely to succumb to the ravages of COVID-19. So, getting boosted as an approach to protect your parents seems like a pretty good idea to me.”

Weintraub suggested if anyone is gathering with unvaccinated people to spend time outside, which reduces the risk of transmission.

“If you are concerned that you may be around those that have not completed their vaccination course or have chosen not to be vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated, we would recommend congregating outside, bringing a table outside to have an early dessert, for example, running a family game outside playing football outside,” she said.

Consider getting a rapid test before gathering

Before attending a Thanksgiving gathering, the experts recommend that Americans consider taking a rapid test.

Rapid at-home tests are also known as antigen tests. They look for antigens, or proteins from the coronavirus, which are different than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that look for genetic material from the virus.

“Just make sure if you’re going to test, test as close to the event as you possibly can,” Dr. Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, told ABC News. “That will be helpful in reducing the spread of this virus.”

Weintraub also recommended checking the expiration dates because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration extended the expiration dates for several brands of at-home tests.

Don’t attend dinner if you feel sick

The experts recommend staying home if you have any symptoms including coughing, sore throat, sneezing, runny nose or fever.

This is because COVID, flu and RSV all predominantly spread the same way — by coming into contact with respiratory droplets from the nose and throat of infected people that are expelled when they cough or sneeze.

“It’s better not to give the gift of an infection to someone over a holiday that could really be serious for them, even if it’s not serious for you,” Rimoin said.

Halkitis said he had to follow this advice three weeks ago when he was feeling congested. At first, he thought he was just a little under the weather.

“At some point, some synapse fired in my brain and said, maybe you should actually test yourself and, lo and behold, it was positive for COVID-19,” he said. “I stayed home the whole following week. I didn’t go to work or anything, not because I was feeling horrible. I could have worked perfectly fine, but I took a responsibility not to infect people.”

Halkitis continued, “So, if people are feeling sick, even slightly sick, even if they even if they test positive and have no symptoms, they should stay home.”

Wear a mask indoors

Although the public appetite for mask wearing is low, experts recommend wearing masks in indoor crowded spaces before attending the event.

People can also consider wearing a mask during the holiday if they are near a high-risk individual.

“Masks are great tools,” Rimoin said. “Masks will be able to prevent spread of respiratory pathogens if worn correctly.”

She continued. “I think it’s important that people go back to the basics about how we protect ourselves using some basic public health measures. They work for COVID-19, they work for RSV and they work for influenza, and really any respiratory virus.”

Ventilation and handwashing

Experts recommend making sure that on the day of the event, the room is properly ventilated, and guests practice good handwashing, thoroughly with soap and water.

Ventilation can include opening doors and windows, if the weather isn’t too cold, or buying air filters.

“Open windows, open doors, if you’re in a place that is warm,” Rimoin said. “And if you aren’t, as many people aren’t right now, you can do a lot to improve ventilation. You can get HEPA filters.”

High efficiency particulate air filters can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Halkitis also suggested having hand sanitizer readily available, explaining, “I’d have it so that all the reminders are there for people to actually undertake these health behaviors while they’re in the home with each other.”

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LA County recommends indoor masking after increase in COVID cases

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(LOS ANGELES) — Los Angeles County is advising residents to wear masks indoors amid an increase in COVID-19 transmission.

On Thursday, the largest county in the United States said it is “strongly recommending” people wear face coverings in indoor public settings but stopped short of requiring them.

Under an updated response plan released this week, the county said it would issue the recommendations if the COVID-19 case rate hit 100 per 100,000 residents, which it did Thursday, up from 86 per 100,000 one week ago.

“Now, it is strongly recommended that all individuals wear a high-quality mask that fits well in the following settings: in public indoor spaces; when using public transit, including buses, ride-shares, taxis and medical transport; correctional and detention facilities; and homeless and emergency shelters,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said during a media briefing.

Masks are still required for those who work in health care facilities, who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 10 days and anywhere mandates are in place.

Data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health shows an average of 1,500 cases per day have been reported in the last week, an increase from the 1,300 per day reported last week. Test positivity has also increased from 5.8% to 6.8%

Davis told reporters during the briefing this is likely an undercount due to people testing positive with at-home rapid tests and not reporting their results to the health department as well as people who are not testing at all.

Additionally, the number of hospitalized patients has risen from 464 as of Nov. 10 to 601 as of Thursday, data shows.

Daily deaths from COVID-19 remain low with an average of about eight reported per day, but Davis said he expects this number will climb because death tolls generally tend to lag cases and hospitalizations, and both metrics are rising.

He urged residents to get vaccinated and boosted ahead of the holiday season as well as to follow guidelines, including frequent handwashing and staying away from those who are sick.

“We are grateful this year to have the tools that allow us to gather with a lot of safety,” Davis said. “It will mean, however, that all of us likely will need to take some commonsense precautions to avoid future disruptions and the spread of illness.”

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Flu cases, hospitalizations, deaths continue to surge across US

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(NEW YORK) — The number of flu cases, hospitalizations and deaths this season are rapidly increasing, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far this season, there have been at least 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths from influenza.

The numbers are about 1.5 times higher than the 2.8 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 1,300 deaths reported the prior week.

Additionally, the cumulative hospitalization rate currently sits at 8.1 per 100,000 — up from 5 per 100,000 the previous week — which is the highest at this point in the season since statistics began being recorded in the 2010-11 season.

The data also shows that 8,707 new patients were admitted to hospital this past week with flu complications, according to the CDC, compared to 6,465 the previous week.

Two pediatric deaths from the flu were recorded last week bringing the total this season to seven, the CDC said.

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FDA approves first drug to delay onset of Type 1 diabetes

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(SILVER SPRING, Md.) — For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved a treatment that can delay the onset of Type 1 diabetes.

Teplizumab, a monoclonal antibody that will be marketed under the brand name Tzield from pharmaceutical companies ProventionBio and Sanofi, is administered through intravenous infusion. The injection was shown in clinical trials to delay onset of insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetes for patients with autoantibody markers of early risk by over two years, with hopes for some that it can delay onset even longer.

“Today’s approval of a first-in-class therapy adds an important new treatment option for certain at-risk patients,” said Dr. John Sharretts, director of the Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders, and Obesity in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The drug’s potential to delay clinical diagnosis of type 1 diabetes may provide patients with months to years without the burdens of disease.”
MORE: 3 in 10 uninsured Americans with diabetes may ration insulin: Study

Tzield was approved to delay the onset of stage 3 Type 1 diabetes in adults and children ages 8 and up who currently have stage 2 Type 1 diabetes. The medication is thought to slow down the body’s attack on its own insulin-producing cells and thus give people more time before they become dependent on pharmaceutical insulin. Tzield is not suitable for people with insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetes, people who are pre-Type 2 diabetics or those with type 2 diabetes.

“This approval is a watershed moment for the treatment and prevention of type 1 diabetes,” said Dr. Mark S. Anderson, director of the University of California San Francisco Diabetes Center. “Until now, the only real therapy for patients has been a lifetime of insulin replacement. This new therapy targets and helps to halt the autoimmune process that leads to the loss of insulin.”

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the pancreas does not produce insulin, the vital hormone responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the body’s bloodstream. People with Type 1 diabetes have increased glucose that requires them to get insulin shots or wear an insulin pump to survive.

People with a family history of Type 1 diabetes or are otherwise concerned about developing the disorder can get a blood test processed through a lab that can detect autoantibodies. Studies have shown that 75% of people with these diagnostic markers usually become insulin-dependent within five years and nearly 100% at some point in their lifetime.

In 2019, an estimated 28.7 million people of all ages across the United States — or 8.7% of the country’s population — had diagnosed diabetes, including 1.6 million adults aged 20 and older who reported both having Type 1 diabetes and using insulin. Some 64,000 people are diagnosed with insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetes nationwide each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Malta abortion laws eased after American woman almost died

Mary Kekatos, ABC News

(VALLETTA, Malta) — Malta announced Wednesday it is easing its abortion laws, becoming the last country in the European Union to end a total ban on the procedure.

The Mediterranean nation, located off the coast of Sicily, does not allow women to receive an abortion, including in cases of rape or incest.

However, Health Minister Chris Fearne said the government will amend the law to allow termination of a pregnancy if the mother’s life or health is at risk.

A legislative amendment will be presented to its Parliament next week allowing abortion if the mother is at risk of death and the fetus is not developed enough to be delivered.

Currently, Malta’s criminal code states any providers who perform an abortion to save the mother’s life — or women who receive an abortion — could face up to four years in prison.

“The choice isn’t whether the mother or the baby survive. The choice here is whether the mother and baby both dies, or whether the mother’s life is saved,” Fearne told reporters, according to Reuters.

“We don’t believe that after going through this ordeal the woman should face the possibility of imprisonment,” Fearne said.

The change was spurred after an American pregnant woman nearly died in the country because doctors refused to perform an abortion.

Andrea Prudente was 16 weeks pregnant when she and her partner Jay Weeldreyer decided to go on a two-week “babymoon” to Malta.

One week into the trip, Prudente was rushed to the hospital after she began bleeding profusely. Doctors told her the placenta had separated from the uterus — a condition known as placental abruption — and she was miscarrying.

Prudente was told the pregnancy was no longer viable and she was at risk of hemorrhaging if she didn’t have an abortion.

However, due to Malta’s strict abortion laws, doctors were unable to perform the procedure.

After days of communicating with their midwife back in the U.S., Prudente and Weeldreyer were able to get their insurance company to organize an emergency flight to Spain, where an abortion could be performed.

“This baby can’t live,” Weeldreyer told ABC News at the time. “And the fact that Andrea’s being forced to suffer as a consequence of it is barbaric. Like … it’s inexcusable. It’s been a long grind. She’s been through the wringer,” he said.

In September, the couple sued Malta’s government, arguing the ban is unconstitutional and violates the European Convention of Human Rights. The case has yet to go to trial.

Malta is a predominantly Catholic country with most residents favoring abortion restrictions. One recent poll found 61.8% of Maltese do not believe abortion should be decriminalized.

The poll showed 27.8% of survey respondents believe abortion should be legal in some circumstances while 8.3% said it should be legal in all cases.

Malta is one of only five countries in Europe where abortion is severely restricted, which includes Andorra, Liechtenstein, Poland and Vatican City.

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What to know about Ozempic as demand for the drug leads to shortage

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(NEW YORK) — Social media is abuzz with people sharing stories about weight loss using Ozempic, a drug designed to regulate insulin.

Now, doctors are weighing in with context about this influential drug.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes alongside diet and exercise if other medications cannot control blood sugar levels well enough.

Studies show patients with Type 2 diabetes — a chronic condition in which the body doesn’t respond to insulin well — who take Ozempic can even reduce risk of heart disease.

Although Ozempic is not explicitly approved for chronic weight management, it can be prescribed off-label and used safely for people who are obese.

Another drug called Wegovy is essentially the same injectable drug prescribed at a higher dosage.

The FDA has specifically approved Wegovy for patients with severe obesity, or who are overweight and have one or more weight-associated conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Both drugs are currently in shortage, according to the FDA.

Doctors say both drugs are important options for people with obesity and diabetes. More than 40% of Americans are obese and 10% of Americans have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Obesity is a complex disease. It’s all encompassing of genetic, occupational, hormonal, physical, mental, and social factors,” said Dr. Marlena Klein, DO, DABOM, obesity medicine specialist at Cooper University Health Care. “Patients have hugged me in the office and said I’ve changed their life because it allowed them to make changes.”

She continues, “It was like this was a missing piece in trying to get this disease under control.”

People who don’t have diabetes or obesity can still be prescribed the drug “off-label” but they may have to pay out of pocket, which could cost $800 to $1,400 for a one-month supply.

Since they hit the market, both Ozempic and Wegovy have been in high demand, both for on-label and off-label use.

Novo Nordisk, the company that makes both drugs, says it is currently experiencing “intermittent supply disruptions” of Ozempic due to “incredible demand” paired with supply chain constraints.

Because weight loss is a major concern in the United States, experts hope more patients can have access to these medications very soon.

Semaglutide works by helping the pancreas release insulin to move sugar from the blood into body tissues.

It also works by slowing down movement of food through the stomach and curbing appetite, thereby causing weight loss. It cannot be given to patients with certain medical conditions, including medullary thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, or gallstones.

Side effects can include severe nausea and constipation.

Its safety has not yet been established in minors.

Doctors will start out with a low dose of the injection and increase the dose after four weeks based on your body’s response.

Dr. Louis J. Arrone, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine & New York Presbyterian, said that in his practice, patients have been turning to Ozempic because Wegovy is in such short supply.

Novo Nordisk said it is on track to make Wegovy more widely available in December, and that a broad commercial re-launch is expected next year.

Doctors say that any patient having a hard time accessing Ozempic or Wegovy due to the current national shortage should speak to their primary care doctor or endocrinologist about alternative options within the same class of medications.

There are oral forms and other injectable forms that can be administered daily or weekly.

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Home births in US rise to highest level in 30 years: CDC

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(NEW YORK) — Home births in the United States reached the highest level in three decades during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The report’s findings show the nationwide number of pregnant people giving birth at home rose from 1.26% in 2020 to 1.41% in 2021 — an increase of 12% and the highest level since at least 1990. That followed a 22% increase from 2019 to 2020.

The percentage peaked in January 2021 at 1.51%, according to the report.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of U.S. births still happen at a hospital or birthing center. Prior to the pandemic, the country’s rate of home births hovered around 1%.

The report noted that interest in home births increased due to COVID-19 and “concerns about giving birth in a hospital.”

The rise in U.S. home births from 2020 to 2021 was sharpest among Black women, with an increase of 21%. That followed a 36% increase from 2019 to 2020, according to the report.

For Hispanic women, home births increased 15% from 2020 to 2021, following a 30% increase from 2019 to 2020. For white women, home births increased 10% from 2020 to 2021, following a 21% increase from 2019 to 2020, according to the report.

From 2020 to 2021, the percentage of home births was on the rise in 30 U.S. states, with increases ranging from 8% for Florida to 49% for West Virginia. That followed increases in home births in 40 states from 2019 to 2020, the report said.

Medical associations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists assert that every individual should have the right and opportunity to choose how they want to give birth. But they also say that hospitals and birthing centers are the safest places to give birth because trained professionals can intervene quickly if something goes wrong.

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Child in California dies of flu and RSV as cases continue to rise

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(NEW YORK) — A child under the age of 5 has died due to complications from flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, health officials in California confirmed on Monday.

The California Department of Public Health did not release additional details on the child or their illness, but noted this is the first pediatric death in the state due to RSV and flu this season.

The child’s death comes as cases of RSV and flu have been appearing earlier this year than usual and are on the rise across the United States.

Earlier this month, health officials in Michigan confirmed a 6-year-old died after developing complications from RSV, a contagious virus that can spread from viral respiratory droplets.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 11,000 RSV infections were diagnosed in September 2022 – which rose to over 44,000 for the month of October.

At the same time, positive tests for influenza reported to the CDC by clinical laboratories jumped from 2,083 to 7,504 in October, according to CDC data.

Though cases of RSV are on the rise, death from the virus remains rare, according to the CDC.

There are between 100 to 500 pediatric deaths and 14,000 adult deaths each year related to RSV, with the actual figure likely higher due to undercounting.

Experts told ABC News that a combination of waning immunity to COVID and lack of exposure to other viruses, combined with close gatherings indoors, is fueling a “perfect storm.”

“Mostly the issue is there’s low population immunity and kids are, once again, gathered again,” said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an ABC News contributor. “And this is facilitating rapid spread of viruses like RSV.”

On Nov. 4, the CDC issued an official health advisory in response to the rise in respiratory infections in children.

The health advisory warned that “co-circulation of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2, and others could place stress on healthcare systems this fall and winter.”

Doctors say it’s possible for people to become infected with two or more viruses at the same time. If this happens, especially in children or people with weakened immune systems, it can lead to a more severe illness.

What parents should know about RSV

RSV is a contagious virus that can spread from viral respiratory droplets transferred from an infected person’s cough or sneeze; from direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV; and from touching surfaces, like tables, doorknobs and crib rails, that have the virus on them and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before hand-washing, according to the CDC.

People infected with RSV are usually contagious for three to eight days, but some infants can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as four weeks, according to the CDC.

Among children, premature infants and young children with weakened immune systems or congenital heart or chronic lung disease are the most vulnerable to complications from RSV.

“Pretty much all kids have gotten RSV at least once by the time they turn 2, but it’s really younger kids, especially those under 6 months of age, who can really have trouble with RSV and sometimes end up in the hospital,” Dr. William Linam, pediatric infectious disease doctor at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, told ABC News last year. “That’s where we want to get the word out, for families with young children or children with medical conditions, making sure they’re aware this is going on.”

In the first two to four days of contracting RSV, a child may show symptoms like fever, runny nose and congestion.

Later on, the symptoms may escalate to coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Parents should also be alerted to symptoms including dehydration and not eating, according to Linam.

“Not making a wet diaper in over eight hours is often a good marker that a child is dehydrated and a good reason to seek medical care,” he said. “Sometimes kids under 6 months of age can have pauses when they’re breathing and that’s something to get medical attention for right away.”

Infants and toddlers can usually recover at home with RSV unless they start to have difficulty breathing, are not eating or drinking, or appear more tired than usual, in which case parents should contact their pediatrician and/or take their child to the emergency room.

At-home care for kids with RSV can include Tylenol and Motrin for fevers, as well as making sure the child is hydrated and eating.

According to Linam, parents can help protect their kids from RSV by continuing to follow as much as possible the three Ws of the pandemic: wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.

Infants who are born prematurely (less than 29 weeks) and are less than 12 months old may benefit from a medication to prevent complications of RSV since they are at increased risk of severe disease, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Infants born prematurely with chronic lung disease may also qualify for medication. Parents should discuss this with their pediatrician.

ABC News’ Teddy Grant and Mary Kekatos contributed to this report.

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