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Public Health Emerging Issues – 9/9/2021

NOT JUST COVID-19: OTHER RESPIRATORY VIRUSES CIRCULATING IN MESA COUNTY

  • COVID-19 continues to be prevalent in Mesa County and is increasing in younger populations. 
  • Other viruses are circulating too, including Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) a very common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. 
  • State health experts warn co-circulation of COVID-19, influenza, and RSV will likely put a significant strain on the pediatric health care system.
  • This summer there have been an unusual number of early cases reported from Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • RSV is typically not seen at these levels until the winter months with Mesa County RSV cases historically occurring between January and April.
  • MCPH is aware of increased illness in at least two child care facilities due to RSV.
  • Mesa County Public Health (MC
    PH) monitors outbreaks of RSV in childcares, and other educational and living facilities to aid in understanding of exclusion procedures and cleaning protocols to ensure a healthy environment.
  • RSV can cause severe infection in some people, including babies 12 months and younger (infants), especially premature infants, older adults, people with heart and lung disease, or anyone with a weak immune system (immunocompromised).
  • In adults and older, healthy children, RSV symptoms are mild and typically mimic the common cold. 
  • Symptoms usually appear four to six days after exposure and can include:
    • Congested or runny nose
    • Dry cough
    • Low-grade fever
    • Sore throat
    • Sneezing
    • Headache
  • RSV is spread easily through fluids of the mouth and nose. The virus can live on surfaces and objects for hours. People touch the surface with the virus then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. It can also be spread by inhaling droplets from a sneeze or cough and direct contact, like shaking hands.
  • Based on state and national surveillance data, pediatric hospitalization rates for RSV are typically higher than influenza hospitalization rates and also exceeded the pediatric COVID-19 hospitalization rates seen in 2020. More information here.

Public Health Recommendations: 

  • Parents and caregivers should keep all children with cold-like symptoms out of childcare and school settings, even if they test negative for COVID-19.
  • Stay home from work if you are feeling sick, particularly if you work in the health care, childcare, education, and long-term care industries.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Cover coughs or sneezes using your elbow instead of your hand when a tissue is not available.
  • If you have a negative COVID-19 test, seek additional support from a primary care provider to see if you have another virus like influenza or RSV.
  • Consider a COVID-19 and a flu vaccine to protect against severe illness and hospitalization.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, tables, handrails, and toys.. 
  • Encourage and practice hand hygiene at home, school, and work. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub when soap and water is not readily available.