An outbreak of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) has struck one ward at Hong Kong’s Siu Lam Hospital affected about a dozen patients, government officials report.

RSV virion/CDC
RSV virion/CDC

According to a spokesperson for the hospital, fifteen patients (aged 19 to 61) in a male ward for severe intellectual disability have presented with respiratory symptoms since February 21. Appropriate viral tests were arranged and 11 patients tested positive for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. The  patients concerned are being treated under isolation and are in a stable condition.

Admission to the ward has been suspended and restricted visiting has been imposed. Infection control measures have already been stepped up according to established guidelines. All other patients in the ward are under close surveillance.

RSV can cause upper respiratory infections (such as colds) and lower respiratory tract infections (such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia). In children younger than 1 year of age, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.

In addition, RSV is being recognized more often as a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults.