Linn County Public Health, Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital are experiencing an increase in respiratory cases caused by viruses such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). In addition, there’s also an uptick in influenza and COVID cases. RSV and influenza have arrived earlier in the season than normal.
As medical providers, the health and safety of those in our community is a top priority. As such, we urge community members to consider safety measures as we approach the time of year where the number of people infected by respiratory illness typically increases.
Respiratory viruses can be spread when:
- An infected person coughs or sneezes.
- Virus droplets from a cough or sneeze get in your eyes, nose or mouth.
- You have direct contact with the virus, such as touching someone.
- You touch a surface that has the virus on it and then touch your face before washing your hands.
Reducing the risk of spreading respiratory illness is also important to protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe illness, as well as the healthcare system and other critical infrastructure. Common ways you can help prevent respiratory illness include:
- Staying home when feeling ill.
- Washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Avoiding contact with anyone who is sick.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Covering your cough.
- Wearing a mask and keeping your nose and mouth covered in large public settings.
According to the CDC, individuals are typically infected with RSV for the first time as an infant or toddler and nearly all children are infected before their second birthday. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. It attacks the airways in the lungs. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially in infants and older adults. RSV prevention methods are similar to flu prevention, as listed above. No vaccine is available for RSV.
Members of the community can also reduce the risk of serious complications from COVID-19 and seasonal flu by getting vaccinated. Vaccines for those viruses are easily accessible throughout the community. Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exceptions.
Please do your part to prevent illness and reduce the burden on local hospitals by keeping yourself and others safe.