Flu numbers declining, RSV cases up

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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The number of confirmed influenza cases in Newfoundland and Labrador is declining, but respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common cause of illness in infants and young children appears to be on the rise.

The latest influenza report from the Department of Health and Community Services shows nine influenza cases were confirmed during the week of March 10-16, the majority being Influenza A and just two per cent Influenza B. Three people with influenza were hospitalized.

Four of the nine confirmed cases were in the Western Health region.

The total number of confirmed influenza cases in the province this current flu season has been 704, with 15 deaths, 243 people being hospitalized and 26 people admitted to intensive care units.

While flu numbers are declining, in the latest weekly report, the Department of Health says RSV was the predominant virus.

Thirteen cases were identified during the week of March 10-16 and there have been 75 cases altogether during the current flu season.

The department says RSV is the most common cause of respiratory infection in infants and young children, with symptoms similar to the common cold.

Most children have had RSV by the age of three. Infants are most at risk for more serious infection.

The virus is spread easily in respiratory droplets by coughing or sneezing and can live on environmental surfaces for hours and can be spread on the hands of people who touch these surfaces.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, RSV usually occurs between January and May of each year.

The department says hand hygiene is the most important way to prevent the spread of RSV and children shouldn't share personal items such as pacifiers, eating utensils and toothbrushes. It's also recommended to keep young children away from people who have colds and avoid crowded places during RSV season.

Antibiotics are not used because RSV is a virus not bacteria.

Treatment includes fever medication, if needed, small frequent feedings, rest and medical assessment if symptoms worsen.

Infants or children with more serious infection may require hospitalization.



Organizations: Department of Health and Community

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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