Thursday, January 19, 2017

Respiratory Syncytial Virus data prompts illness reminder

Alberta Health Services - Due to an increased number of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) outbreaks and positive lab specimens across the province, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is reminding all Albertans to practise good respiratory etiquette and refrain from visiting infants, children and vulnerable individuals when 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 lead to more severe respiratory complications requiring hospital care, such as bronchiolitis (an infection of the small airways) and pneumonia. 

Because RSV is not preventable by vaccine, it is the responsibility 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 Janiary. 17, 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 14, 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.

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