Tests conducted in La Plata County have confirmed the presence of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, serving as a reminder that contagious respiratory illnesses are circulating. RSV and influenza are respiratory viruses that typically circulate in the fall and winter months. RSV is a common respiratory virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms in most people. Although most people recover in a week or two, RSV can be dangerous, particularly in infants and the elderly. In the United States, RSV is the most prevalent cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia in children under the age of one.
San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) advises residents to take precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses such as RSV, especially among children. Hundreds of children are hospitalized each year in Colorado due to RSV-related illness. With an increase in COVID-19 and flu cases anticipated in the months ahead, it is critical to limit the spread of RSV and other contagious respiratory illnesses.
If you’re at risk for a severe respiratory infection or if you interact with an older adult, you should take extra precautions to stay healthy. The following measures help prevent the spread of respiratory infections:
- If you’re sick, stay at home. When you’re sick, try to avoid going to work, school, or public places. This will help prevent others from contracting your illness.
- Handwash often. Hands should be washed often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t accessible. Keep your hands away from your face. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Germs spread easily in this manner.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. When coughing or sneezing, place a tissue over your mouth and nose. After that, throw the tissue away.
- Keep a safe distance from sick people. Avoid close contact with people who have cold-like symptoms, such as kissing and sharing cups or eating utensils.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces. Surfaces that people commonly touch, such as doorknobs, should be cleaned and disinfected. RSV-infected people can spread germs by touching surfaces and items. Furthermore, droplets containing germs might land on surfaces and objects when a person coughs or sneezes.
SJBPH strongly encourages residents to receive their annual flu immunization. Likewise, staying up to date with childhood vaccines such as pertussis and MMR is the most effective way to protect newborns, children, teenagers, pregnant women, and adults.
Flu shots are widely available at pharmacies, grocery stores, or your doctor’s office. Young children can get flu vaccines at their doctor’s office or at SJBPH. Also, talk to your child’s doctor about scheduling routine vaccinations such as MMR, or call SJBPH’s immunizations clinic 970-335-2013 if you don’t have a primary care physician.
With COVID-19 still circulating in both La Plata and Archuleta counties, COVID-19 testing continues to be important especially if you or your child are experiencing symptoms. A negative COVID-19 test for someone experiencing a high fever or sore throat may indicate the individual has another contagious respiratory infection, such as RSV. Those who suspect illness should contact their health care provider.
Visit the SJBPH website to find a local COVID-19 vaccine clinic or provider. The SJBPH website also includes information about preventable disease, vaccinations, and controlling the spread of disease.