LAKE COUNTY NEWS, CA – Lake County Health Services reports an increase in respiratory illnesses

Lake County, Calif. — The Lake County Director of Health Services reports that health officials are concerned about the potential for a significant year-round increase in respiratory illnesses as this holiday season begins. Jonathan Portney said the increase in activity of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, along with influenza and the common cold, and SARS-CoV-2, has the potential to block access to health care locally.

“What’s particularly troubling is how simultaneous waves of these diseases could prevent vulnerable young children and elderly members of our society from receiving care,” Portney said. “At this time, it is advised that healthcare facilities consider expanding their capacity to assess and treat pediatric patients in order to manage the increase in patient volume.”

Healthcare facilities in neighboring Sonoma County reported experiencing more than three times as much RSV during the last half of October than they did during the same period last year, Portney said. This early wave led to increased hospitalizations of children and contributed to stresses in the children’s healthcare system.

Because there is no requirement for hospitals to report RSV cases, it is not possible to estimate how many cases Lake County has. Typically, respiratory illnesses are most common between fall and spring, Portney said, with a peak in late December.

“The current risk contrasts with the reduced activity of these viruses seen over the past two years when various mitigation measures for SARS-CoV2 prevented transmission,” Portney said.

He said RSV levels statewide are currently similar to seasonal peaks seen in previous years as many children are exposed to other respiratory viruses for the first time. Most children develop a mild version of respiratory syncytial virus before the age of two years. A virus usually causes a cold, but in children younger than 1 year old, respiratory syncytial virus is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

In order to mitigate any potentially serious outcomes, Portney said it’s very important that local healthcare and childcare communities emphasize the importance of flu and SARS vaccines for everyone in our community 6 months of age or older.

Although there is no vaccine for the common cold or RSV, Portney said everyday preventive measures such as staying home when sick, frequent hand washing, covering coughs or sneezes, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and wearing a mask in public indoor spaces can help protect. . our community.

Respiratory illnesses have overlapping symptoms, Portney said, so parents and caregivers of children should watch for symptoms related to RSV including breathing more quickly than normal, labored breathing, nasal congestion, and prolonged pauses between breaths. Irritability, increased activity, and decreased appetite are also signs of infection in infants which parents should seek advice about when they are discovered.

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends prophylactic palivizumab for infants and young children at risk of RSV infection, Portney says.

Portney said health care providers who care for children and adults with respiratory illnesses in inpatient and congregate settings should test for respiratory viruses, including influenza, SARS-COV-2, and RSV. For patients at suspected influenza risk, it is recommended that antiviral therapy be initiated immediately, without delaying laboratory confirmation of influenza.

The California Department of Public Health recommends that physicians prescribe antiviral chemoprophylaxis during outbreaks in long-term care facilities.

“As RSV and other respiratory viruses continue to evolve and new evidence emerges, Lake County Health Services will collaborate with local health care providers and child care facilities to evaluate and provide additional updates as they become available,” Portney said.

Additional sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Palivizumab Propylaxis to Prevent Hospitalization for Acute Respiratory Virus Infection: to use-palivizumab-prevention-to-prevent-hospitalization /

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Child Vaccines:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Influenza:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) RSV:

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