As the nation heads into the holiday season, hospitals are dealing with the impact of a surge of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
The current surge comes as influenza reaches the peak of its season and Covid-19 continues to persist.
RSV is a virus that affects the breathing passages and the lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). While many people experience cold-like symptoms and recover within two weeks, it can become serious.
Dr. David H. Priest of Novant Health said in a press briefing that RSV is particularly dangerous among young children, with 80-85% of children in pediatric inpatients being treated for the virus.
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Other at-risk groups include people over the age of 65, people with preexisting conditions that affect their heart and lungs, and people with other preexisting conditions like diabetes.
The flu, Covid-19, and RSV share similar symptoms, such as fever, coughing, and sneezing. Priest said it could be “very difficult” for a person to tell which of the three viral diseases they may have, especially if they have all three diseases at one time.
The CDC says RSV is spread through the following ways:
- an infected person coughs or sneezes
- virus droplets from a cough or sneeze make contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth
- touching a surface that has the virus on it, like a doorknob, and then touching the face before washing hands
- direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV
According to a press briefing, Atrium and other hospitals across the region are at capacity as a result of the surge. Currently, Atrium is prepared to divert patients if needed. RSV cases are seeing peak numbers despite the usual peak occurring later in the year, in December.
As with Covid-19, wearing a mask and frequent hand-washing can help to protect from the virus.