What is RSV?
RSV is a common virus that can be dangerous for infants and older people. It is a respiratory virus that spreads through coughing and sneezing. Signs of RSV include runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, wheezing and labored breathing. Symptoms usually appear in stages. Young infants with RSV may only show irritability, decreased activity and breathing difficulties. Why is it spreading now? Because RSV largely stopped spreading during the pandemic, health officials said there’s likely "a larger pool of kids being exposed to it for the first time.” That’s why there are more cases than in a normal year. During the pandemic stay at home measures, babies, young children, and older people were better protected from common illnesses. Now, eased restrictions, combined with the return to school and indoor activities and gatherings, mean children’s and older people's immune systems may not be as prepared to fight these viruses. Who is at risk? RSV can greater affect 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). Public Health Emergency in Oregon The governor has declared a public health emergency because the statewide pediatric hospitalization rate has more than tripled since the onset of Oregon’s RSV season in late October. Statewide, fewer than 5% of hospital beds are currently vacant. To avoid getting, or spreading it, consider:
Wearing a mask in crowded indoor environments
Wearing a mask in public if you have a runny nose
Proper handwashing is even more effective against RSV transmission than it is for COVID-19.
There is currently no vaccine for RSV
The more we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones, the more we can protect hospital beds for those who really need them. That’s one way to practice community care.