Respiratory Virus Season ‘Looking Ugly So Far,’ Say Medical Professionals

Respiratory Virus Season ‘Looking Ugly So Far,’ Say Medical Professionals
Local medical professionals are encouraging people to take precautions while traveling during the holidays with respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, already hitting hard this year.
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Anyone hosting a Thanksgiving gathering this year with younger, older or immunocompromised guests, especially if some guests are flying in, might consider asking guests to cover up during their travels.

“If I were traveling, I would wear a mask with all the high levels of respiratory viruses that we’re seeing,” said Dr. Dana Fitzgerald of the Pediatrics of Steamboat Springs.

To enjoy a party without masks, wearing preventative masks on planes or in crowded travel locations is key to protecting yourself from an unwanted respiratory virus that can easily spread to loved ones, said Lauren Bryan, program manager for infection prevention at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical. Center.

With less than two weeks to go until Thanksgiving, it’s important to get a flu shot or a COVID-19 booster now, as vaccines need two weeks to be fully effective, Bryan said.

Bryan said this year’s respiratory viral season is proving to be “strange” with statistics “a little out of line with what we’ve seen historically,” especially considering the trifecta of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Although transmission of COVID-19 remains Bryan’s primary concern, the hospital’s laboratory has confirmed cases of both. influenza A and B this year from internal nasal swab tests, with more A’s than B’s so far. Influenza A is the most serious strain leading to the most hospitalizations, Bryan said, and influenza B typically doesn’t show up until spring.

YVMC Communications Strategist Lindsey Reznicek reported that the hospital has admitted patients for RSV, but did not disclose the number of patients.

Bryan said he is concerned that young children may need to be transferred to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora because that facility is at capacity due to an earlier-than-usual high spike in RSV cases in October.

Fitzgerald said that although RSV may seem like a bad cold to older children, it is the most common reason nationwide for children under 2 with a respiratory illness to be admitted to the hospital. She said very young patients may be transferred to Children’s Hospital for care in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit or when they need to be on a ventilator.

According to a UCHealth media advisory on Monday, Nov. 7, the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora has opened its intensive care and inpatient medical units to teens to help alleviate overcrowding at neighboring Children’s Hospital Colorado. .

“The crowding of patients at children’s hospitals is similar to the March 2020 influx of COVID-19 patients at hospitals serving adults,” according to the notice.

Bryan said the increase in RSV cases across the UCHealth system has already surpassed last year when the gradual increase in cases peaked in early December.

“This year has hit very, very, very hard,” Bryan said.

There is no general vaccine for RSV. However, parents of premature infants and young children with certain heart and lung conditions can ask pediatricians about the Palivizumab monoclonal antibody injection, Bryan said.

Bryan believes that party hosts should openly communicate if someone in their household is sick so guests can have fair warning to make the best decisions for their own health.

“(Respiratory viruses) all look ugly so far,” he said. “It depends on the risk factors of the people you have at home.”

Practitioners stressed the importance of frequent handwashing, wearing masks if people are sick and out in public, and not going to work or school when sick.

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