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CDC warns RSV cases rising in southern states as vaccine trials start in Knoxville

The Centers for Disease Control is warning that RSV, a respiratory disease, is on the rise in southern states including Tennessee and Kentucky.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A respiratory disease that hospitalizes more than 2 million kids every year and sometimes kills more people than the flu is on the rise in southern parts of the U.S., according to officials.

The Centers for Disease Control is warning people about increased numbers of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases. Usually, it causes mild, cold-like symptoms and people most often recover in a week. However, it can also cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year old

"There is a real public health need, because of the severe illness that it causes," said Dr. Bill Smith, the CEO of American Medical Response. "In 1000s of people every year."

He said that its reach stretches across the world, affecting more than 64 million people every year.

The disease can also take a major toll on people above 60 years old. Smith said around 14,000 people in that age range die from it every year.

A new warning from the CDC says parts of the southern U.S. are seeing a rise in the disease. The warning includes Tennessee and Kentucky. 

Dr. Smith and his team at AMR started vaccine trials across the country to help prevent RSV and in a matter of weeks, those trials will start in Knoxville.

"We will be starting RSV trials at Knoxville early in July," he said. "Now that we've got easier testing, we are realizing that the incidence of RSV was even higher than we realize."

The trials will be for those above 60 years old, and if you are interested in learning more about RSV or participating in an RSV trial you can call 865-305-DRUG.

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