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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases hitting early and why it matters

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases hitting early and why it matters
Carle Health pediatricians are concerned that without the community’s help to curb the spread of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases could impact pediatric critical care access, causing an acute shortage in pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) beds this fall and winter. This recent rise in RSV cases is being felt throughout the state. This marks the second season where RSV activity began earlier than expected.
A recent communication from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) indicated that as of October 18, 2022, there were only 6% of the current 289 PICU beds across the state open for children requiring hospitalization due to acute care needs and serious illness. This low number of PICU beds makes the prevention of non-vaccine preventable infections, like RSV and other respiratory diseases, even more important.
“We had a welcome but short-lived break from RSV infections the past couple of years largely due to all of the COVID-19 protocols – masking in public, practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing.” Brent Reifsteck, MD, medical director for Children’s Services, Carle Foundation Hospital said.  “But that break appears to be over. RSV is hitting early and hard all across the country prompting us to relook at how we can help protect those under the age of five from the virus and potential hospitalization.
Everyone can take simple steps to help stop respiratory viruses from circulating, which will reduce the number of children requiring hospitalization. Practice these eight healthy habits:
  1. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, not your hands and stay home if you are sick until you are feeling better or are fever-free without the need for fever-reducing medicines for at least 24 hours. 
  2. Wear a mask if you develop any symptoms, such as a runny nose, cough, or fever. 
  3. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after you cough or sneeze. 
  4. Avoid unnecessary touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. 
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices. 
  6. Maintaining a distance of at least three feet from people who are sick and avoid kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils, with others. 
  7. Get vaccinated for the flu and get up to date on the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. 
  8. Consider masking indoors in crowded areas, especially at large gatherings during the upcoming holiday season, to prevent acquiring any infection, such as RSV, flu, or COVID-19.
 According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms that subside in a week or two for most people but it can be serious in children younger than 1 and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. More severe cases, may be accompanied by fever, severe cough, wheezing, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, or bluish color of the skin due to lack of oxygen. 
People infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days. However, some infants and people with weakened immune systems can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. It is spread through respiratory droplets, touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your face before washing your hands, or having direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV or sharing food and drinks with someone who has the virus.
“Nearly all children are expected to have an RSV infection by their 2nd birthday,” Aaron Traeger, MD, Carle Pediatrics Bloomington says. “There is no specific treatment for RSV infection beyond managing symptoms with fluids and fever reducers. Palivizumab is a monoclonal antibody recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to prevent severe RSV in children with underlying health conditions. Individuals should seek immediate care if a child — or anyone at risk of severe RSV infection — has difficulty breathing, a high fever, or a blue color to the skin, particularly on the lips and in the nail beds.”
For more information about Carle Health doctors and services, visit the Carle Health website

Categories: Staying Healthy, Community

Tags: Carle BroMenn Medical Center, Carle Foundation Hospital, pediatric inpatient care, pediatrics, RSV