Springfield-Greene County Health, Mercy Springfield, CoxHealth and Jordan Valley Community Health Center are asking families to take precautions as we move further into respiratory illness season. Greene County’s hospitals are experiencing a surge in patients seeking treatment for respiratory illnesses. The surge is primarily among children, many of whom are sick with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
According to Sonya Kullmann at Mercy Springfield, “We’re seeing the sort of spike now that we usually don’t see until January. The concern is not knowing how high the numbers will go.”
CoxHealth is also seeing higher than typical numbers of RSV cases this early in respiratory illness season. Director of Public Relations, Cary Nabors, adds that CoxHealth is “closely monitoring the situation and have plans in place if numbers rise to the level that hospitals around the country are experiencing.”
RSV is a virus that typically causes cold-like symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Runny nose.
- Decrease in appetite.
While most people experience mild symptoms and recover within 1 to 2 weeks, children and older adults are at risk for severe illness and hospitalization. Children who are immunocompromised are at the highest risk for severe illness, including:
- Premature infants.
- Babies, especially those 6 months and younger.
- Children younger than 2 years with chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease.
- Children who have neuromuscular disorders, including genetic disorders that can cause difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus from the throat.
There is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for RSV. If you or your child is having difficulty breathing, not drinking enough fluids or is experiencing worsening symptoms, contact a healthcare provider immediately.
Hospitals are anticipating continued surges caused by viruses like RSV, influenza and COVID-19. Experts were already predicting a worse than normal flu season based on the prevalence of flu in countries in the southern hemisphere like Australia, which saw its worst flu season in five years. A surge in these three viruses could impact the resources and services available to the community.
Mercy Hospital has already restricted sibling visits in their neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to prevent the spread of these viruses, and CoxHealth is continuing its policy to not allow any visitors under the age of 15 in its NICU. Additionally, both healthcare systems continue to require visitors to wear masks while indoors to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses.
Families, especially those with children, can help prevent the spread of RSV and other respiratory illnesses.
- Avoid close contact with people exhibiting cold-like symptoms.
- Handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching a child’s face with unwashed hands.
If you or your child has cold- or flu-like symptoms, you should:
- Avoid contact with others, especially children and older adults who at a high-risk for severe illness.
- Use a tissue or shirt sleeve to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, not your hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and continue proper handwashing.
- Do not share food, beverages or utensils with others.
Jordan Valley Community Health Center is available for sick kids needing a provider. The Express Care Clinic (618 N Benton) is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additionally, the Pediatrics clinic is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
More information about RSV and other seasonal illnesses can be found on the Health Department’s website. In addition to preventing the spread of RSV, the Health Department is urging the community to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and to get their flu shot. Opportunities for both immunizations, including the updated COVID-19 booster shots, can be found at vaccine417.com.
Media may contact the Health Department PIO Team by call or text at 417-380-2556 or email at [email protected].
Springfield-Greene County Health Department
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