Increase in RSV cases prompts visiting restriction on our pediatric floor

By Kristy Bleizeffer Jan 13, 2015

To protect our youngest patients, Wyoming Medical Center is restricting visitation to our pediatric unit for children 7 and younger. We will continue to monitor the situation and reverse the visitation restrictions when appropriate.

“We have seen an increase of cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in young children and want to protect patients on the pediatric floor from getting sick,” said Alice Lynch, infection control nurse.

RSV is common this type of year. The virus infects the lungs and breathing passages, and most healthy people who contract it experience mild, cold-like symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be serious, though, especially in children and older adults. It is the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children younger than 1.

Infographic courtesty of the CDC.

Infographic courtesy of the CDC.

Symptoms

  • Runny nose and decrease of appetite, usually beginning 4 to 6 days after exposure
  • Sneezing
  • Fever, usually developing 1 to 3 days after first symptoms
  • Wheezing
  • Irritability or decreased activity in infants

Treatment

While there is no specific treatment or vaccinations for RSV, most cases do not require hospitalization. Those who are admitted to the hospital get supportive care and are usually released within a few days. In some severe cases, infants may need supplemental oxygen, mucus suctioned from airways or intubation, according to the CDC.

Prevention

Most people infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days, but those with weak immune systems and some infants may be contagious for several weeks. It spreads by coughs and sneezes sending the virus through the air and coming into contact with the nose, mouth or eye of another person. It can also be spread by contact with nasal or oral secretions with infection people. The virus can survive on environmental surface, such as a door knob or table, for several hours.

To prevent transmission, follow these guidelines from the CDC:

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Wash your hands frequently, with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils
  • Don’t kiss others who may be infected
  • Clean surfaces that could be contaminated (such as cribs, door knobs and tables.)
  • Take special care with children at high risk, such as premature infants and children younger than 2 with chronic lung or heart conditions.

While RSV is a different virus than the ones that cause influenza, this is a good reminder to use common sense when deciding whether to visit anyone in the hospital. Casper, Wyoming and other parts of the country are now in the middle of a particularly severe flu season, and the people we treat at Wyoming Medical Center can be among the sickest in the state. We vaccinate every employee against the flu, and make every effort to keep infected people from bringing the virus in unless hospitalization is required.

“If anyone is sick, we ask that they refrain from visiting, regardless of age,” Lynch said.

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