11.18.22 – From Dr. Logan Clausen, Chief Medical Officer at COPA –
You have probably been hearing about or personally experiencing the respiratory infection referred to as RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). This season, about 30% of the visits that have viral testing are testing positive for RSV, which is a steep increase and significant surge in cases. We are also seeing kids, especially young kids, come in much sicker during this RSV surge, with multiple transfers from COPA to the hospital every day. This severity is different from past years and is causing a significant increase in both outpatient visits and hospital visits for kids in our region.
RSV is a viral illness that tends to happen in waves each winter, but this year we’re seeing more affected kids than typical. Most experts believe this is due to many of the infection control measures we used during COVID (like masking and social distancing) limiting the spread of other respiratory viruses like RSV. With less spread in the community, fewer kids were sick and, therefore, fewer kids developed immune system protection for this infection. Now, we have a bigger pool of children who aren’t immune to RSV, so we have much more spread of the virus.
This increase in cases locally and nationally is leading to longer than typical wait times for calls into medical organizations, longer wait times for nurse triage, and often longer waits in clinics. At COPA, we’re working hard to see as many sick kids as possible, while also ensuring kids get in for their needed well child care, mental health care, and other important visits.
What does an RSV infection look like?
In most cases, it will cause mild, cold-like symptoms, much as it does in the vast majority of healthy adults. But it can also cause severe bronchitis or pneumonia in very young children, particularly infants and those under the age of 5.
Young children may have problems with the increased fluid and mucus, and can have trouble coughing it out resulting in trouble breathing.
You should seek urgent medical care for your child if they are having trouble breathing (labored, shallow, or rapid breaths), wheezing, dehydration (among infants it may mean a decrease in wet diapers), when skin, lips, tongue or nails turn blue, or a significant increase in lethargy and fatigue.
There’s no curative treatment for RSV, but there are supportive things you can do at home.
Humidifiers and warm showers can help loosen mucus and improve congestion. Nasal saline drops can also really make a difference in young kids. For children older than 1yrs, honey can be great for a cough.
If you do feel symptoms coming on or notice them in your kids, stay home.
Prevent illness this season
The best way to avoid getting RSV is to avoid being around other people with any respiratory symptoms (cough, congestion, fever), and to wash your hands regularly.
Boost your immune system with nutritious foods and vitamins, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest. It’s also important for kids to get vaccinated for the flu and stay up-to-date with the recommended series of COVID-19 vaccine injections.
We have a few options to help you navigate these high-volume times
Patients can use the online MyHealth portal to schedule their well child checks and non-urgent office visits in just a few clicks. It’s a fast and easy way to get an appointment without waiting on the phone.
Getting a message to your provider
If you have a question for our team, we are happy to help you. You can call or send a message through the online MyHealth portal. We know parenting comes with so many unknown and unforeseen challenges and we want to support you in every way. Please know the volume of messages and calls right now is leading to a longer than typical timelines to get the answers back to you. We’re giving everyone the attention they need and we’ll help you as well. Non-urgent questions may take a little longer and we appreciate your understanding.
Call COPA if you’re concerned
Your child’s health is our top priority so give us a call if you’re concerned. Our main line for appointments is 541-389-6313 and our telephone nurse advice line is open 24 hours a day. We’re seeing an increase in phone calls and requests for same-day appointments and we’re working hard to see as many children as possible. We apologize for the extra wait times and delays, and we’ll do everything we can to respond.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.