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Panhandle Health offer tips on avoiding RSV

November 10, 2022

As hospitals and healthcare organizations around other parts of the nation are reporting maxed out hospital capacity and overrun emergency departments due to RSV, the panhandle area of north Idaho can thankfully report that is not the case here. Yet. That makes now a perfect time to take precautions and know how you can prevent becoming ill.

Each year in the United States, RSV leads to approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits among children younger than five years old, between 58,000-80,000 hospitalizations among children younger than five years old, and 100-300 deaths in children of the same age group.

Respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can potentially be more severe for those under five years of age, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

“Although the numbers of RSV and flu remain low right now in our area, we know that can change quickly,” said Jenna Dowell, registered nurse and Clinical Services Division Administrator at Panhandle Health District (PHD). “RSV and flu numbers typically peak in November and December, so we want everyone to know how they can best protect themselves and their families this season.”

Some of the ways you can help prevent becoming ill with RSV include:
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Washing hands frequently and correctly with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Avoiding sharing cups and eating utensils with others
  • Staying home when sick and consider wearing a mask if you need to be in public

In addition, cleaning contaminated surfaces (such as doorknobs) may help stop the spread of RSV.

Symptoms of RSV infection are similar to other respiratory diseases. A person with an RSV infection might have a cough, sneezing, runny nose, fever, or decreased appetite. Wheezing may also occur. In young infants, irritability, reduced activity, and breathing difficulties may be the only symptoms of infection. Health individuals infected with RSV generally do not need hospitalization and recovery from the illness usually occurs in about one to two weeks.

RSV can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes sending virus containing droplets into the air, where they can infect a person who inhales the droplets. Direct contact with the virus can occur, for example, by kissing the face of a child with RSV. Indirect contact can occur if the virus lands on a surface, such as a doorknob or table, that is then touched by other people who touch their eyes, mouth, or nose before washing their hands.

Most commonly, people with RSV are contagious for three to eight days after the onset of illness. Being infected with RSV once does not make you immune and reinfection does occur.

“We are sending information and resources to schools and childcare facilities in our area to help them prepare and mitigate when cases do occur,” said Dowell. “There is no vaccine for RSV, so prevention is the key.”

For more information about RSV, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/index.html.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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