The winter’s biting cold foreshadows the seasonal sniffles that are sure to come. This unsavory tradition has parents stocking up on medication and keeping a healthy stockpile of tissues. However, this year is a little different. RSV and influenza are undoubtedly on the rise, but so is COVID-19. This onslaught of respiratory illnesses has medical professionals all over the country sounding alarms.
Should I be afraid?
Now is not the time for panic, but it is time for precautions. One virus of note is RSV, also known as respiratory syncytial virus, which causes cold-like symptoms. This virus is always a looming threat this time of year, but in 2022 it has spiked to uncomfortable levels.
Once again, children and the elderly are most at risk for complications. Cheryl Houselog, an infection prevention specialist at Tri-County Health Care, has been actively tracking the statistics associated with the virus. Like many others, she has been concerned with the steep uptick in RSV and influenza. According to Cheryl, the best defense against RSV and many airborne illnesses is to avoid crowded spaces and regularly clean surfaces around the home. Like with COVID-19, experts are strongly encouraging people to stay home if they exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- New or worsening cough, runny nose, or sneezing
- Cold like symptoms
The impact on us
In just a few short months, respiratory illnesses have become rampant in the Wadena area. RSV numbers have exponentially grown. We have a 38 percent positivity rate for RSV and 23 percent for influenza. These statistics are eerily like what is being experienced at the state level. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, hospitals observe a 35.4 % positivity rate. At this time, it is hard to see a plateau coming.
The rise in respiratory illness is leading to a decrease in the number of available beds in the state. This lack of beds makes it exceedingly difficult to elevate the level of care in critical scenarios. Medical staff at Tri-County Health Care are asking everyone to take reasonable precautions while RSV is on the rise this winter. Please stay home if you are sick. Try not to interact with those experiencing cold-like symptoms. A joint effort is needed to reduce the number of hospitalizations.