Due to an jump the number of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) outbreaks and positive lab specimens across the province, Alberta Health Services has sent out a reminder to avoid visiting children and other vulnerable people when you’re sick.
“We have already seen more RSV outbreaks and positive lab specimens across the province at this point in the season than in the 2015/16 season, in full,” says Dr. Gerry Predy, Senior Medical Officer of Health for AHS. “Though not unusual for us to see this illness each season, the volume is higher, which means heightened risk, particularly for infants.”
RSV usually causes the same symptoms as a bad cold, including a cough, stuffy or runny nose, mild sore throat, earache and fever. However, in some people, especially infants and young children, RSV may become a much more serious issue leading to a hospital stay. The virus has been known to lead to bronchiolitis (an infection of the small airways) and pneumonia.
There is no known vaccine for RSV, so the responsibility falls on of those around the vulnerable to take preventative measures.
“What we ask of you is simple: if you’re feeling sick, don’t visit the vulnerable. This includes infants, seniors and those with compromised immune systems,” says Dr. Predy. “Also, please remember to wash hands frequently and stay home from work, school and social activities when sick.”
As of January 17th, there have been 14 RSV outbreaks confirmed in the current respiratory illness season, as compared to nine RSV outbreaks confirmed in the full 2015/16 season.
As of January 14th, more than 2,000 positive lab specimens have been confirmed for RSV, as compared to approximately 1,300 in the full 2015/16 season. Because some people may be tested multiple times, positive lab specimens should not be misunderstood as representing individual patients.