HealthDay News — The burden of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-positive acute respiratory infection (ARI) in older adults was considerable before COVID-19 and is associated with lower quality of life (QOL), according to a study published online January 20 in JAMA Network Open.

Young J. Juhn, MD, MPH, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues conducted a community-based cohort study that followed 2325 adults aged 50 years or older for 2 RSV seasons from 2019 to 2021 to examine the incidence of RSV-positive ARI before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers found that the incidence rate of RSV-positive ARI was 48.6 per 1000 person-years before the pandemic, with an attack rate of 2.50 percent. During the COVID-19 pandemic RSV season, there were no RSV-positive ARI cases identified. During the summer of 2021, the incidence was 10.2 per 1000 person-years and the attack rate was 0.42%. Participants with RSV-positive ARI reported a significantly lower quality-of-life adjusted mean difference within 2 to 4 weeks after RSV-positive ARI compared with matched RSV-negative ARI, based on prepandemic RSV season results. Those with RSV-positive versus RSV-negative ARI had lower quality of life at six to seven and at 12 to 13 months after RSV-positive ARI.

“RSV-positive ARI was associated with significant long-term impacts on health-related QOL beyond the acute infection in adults over 50,” the authors write. “An effective RSV vaccine might be an important measure to mitigate the impact of RSV-positive ARI, especially in older adults.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to biopharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, which funded the study.

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