Cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other respiratory illnesses are rising within our community and across the country.

Since mid-October, 20 pediatric patients have been hospitalized at Great Plains Health with respiratory viruses.

As families travel for the holidays, it is important to understand the impact of these viruses and how to limit germ exposure.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that can cause mild cold-like symptoms. For infants and older adults, the virus can be serious.

“It is important to note that most of these viruses are transmitted either airborne or by contact,” said Dr. Naidoo. “The best way to reduce risk is to avoid potential sick contacts, use proper hand hygiene and wipe down surfaces effectively.”

“We are now seeing a multitude of different respiratory viruses in the clinic,” Dr. Soogandaren Naidoo of Great Plains Pediatrics said. “Traditionally, as we enter the cold season, we expect harsher respiratory viruses, especially influenza and RSV. However, over the past two years, we have seen not only influenza and RSV, but also traditionally milder viruses that have now mutated and are causing major complications.”

Naidoo says children are being infected with either multiple viruses at the same time, or acquiring a new infection before the first infection concludes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that more than 58,000 children under age five are hospitalized each year in the US because of RSV.

Those at risk of serious illness include:
• Premature infants.
• Very young infants.
• Children younger than two with chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease.
• Children with weakened immune systems.
• Children with neuromuscular disorders.

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