SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Redacted News Release/KY3) – The Springfield-Greene County Health Department, Mercy Springfield, CoxHealth and Jordan Valley Community Health Center are asking families to take precautions as we move into respiratory illness season.
Greene County hospitals are experiencing a surge in patients seeking treatment for respiratory illnesses. The jump is mostly among children, many of whom are sick with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“We’re seeing a spike now that we don’t usually see until January,” said Sonya Kuhlman of Mercy Springfield. “The concern is that we don’t know how high the numbers are going to be.”
CoxHealth also noted a higher-than-usual number of RSV cases early in the respiratory illness season. Director of Public Affairs Carrie Neighbors added that CoxHealth is “monitoring the situation closely and has plans in place if the numbers rise to the level that hospitals across the country are experiencing.”
RSV is a virus that usually causes cold-like symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- A runny nose.
- Decreased appetite.
- A cough.
While most people experience mild symptoms and recover within 1 to 2 weeks, children and the elderly are at risk for severe illness and hospitalization. Immunocompromised children are at the highest risk of severe illness, including:
- Premature children.
- Babies, especially those 6 months and younger.
- Children under 2 years of age with chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease.
- Children who have neuromuscular disorders, including genetic disorders, that may cause difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus from the throat.
There is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for RSV. If you or your child have difficulty breathing, are not drinking enough fluids, or experience worsening symptoms, contact a health care provider immediately.
Hospitals expect continued spikes caused by viruses such as RSV, influenza and COVID-19. Experts have already predicted a worse-than-usual flu season based on flu prevalence in southern hemisphere countries, such as Australia, which saw its worst flu season in five years. The growth of these three viruses can affect the resources and services available to the community.
Mercy Hospital has already restricted sibling visits to their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to prevent the spread of these viruses, and CoxHealth continues its policy of not allowing visitors under the age of 15 into its NICU. In addition, both health systems continue to require visitors to wear masks while indoors to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses.
Families, especially those with children, can help prevent the spread of RSV and other respiratory illnesses.
- Avoid close contact with people exhibiting cold-like symptoms.
- Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching the child’s face with unwashed hands.
If you or your child has cold or flu-like symptoms, you should:
- Avoid contact with other people, especially children and the elderly, who are at high risk of severe illness.
- Use a tissue or shirt sleeve to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, not your hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and continue proper hand washing.
- Do not share food, drink or utensils with other people.
Jordan Valley Community Health Center is available for sick children in need of a provider. The Express Care Clinic (618 N Benton) is open Monday through Friday from 7am to 7pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 4pm. Additionally, the Pediatric Clinic is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
More information about RSV and other seasonal diseases can be found on the Department of Health website. In addition to preventing the spread of RSV, the Department of Health is urging the community to keep up with their COVID-19 vaccinations and get their flu shot. Options for both immunizations, including the updated COVID-19 booster vaccines, can be found at vaccine417.com.
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