Summit County is seeing a record rise in respiratory illness and is urging folks to take steps to avoid overtaxing the local healthcare system
SUMMIT COUNTY—Public health officials in Summit County are urging the public to get vaccinated for flu and COVID-19 to help maintain hospital capacity for treatment of a record number of respiratory illnesses throughout the County, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), flu and COVID-19.
“It’s the 2 year-olds and younger that are the biggest concern, as well as older adults,” said Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland. “Hospitals and clinics across the state are being flooded with little ones suffering from RSV that can make it hard for them to breathe and be very scary for parents.”
Wineland added that this week, one confirmed RSV outbreak was reported at Silverthorne Elementary along with several other probable outbreaks in childcare settings throughout the County.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), RSV causes respiratory tract illness in people of all ages, but infants, young children, and older adults are at greater risk of severe illness from RSV. It spreads by inhaling or having contact with virus-containing droplets (typically through the mouth, nose, or eyes) produced by a person with RSV infection when talking, coughing, and sneezing. While most people who get RSV will only have cold symptoms, it may be more severe in infants and young children, as well as older adults. Symptoms can include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, or coughing and can also include fever, decreased appetite, and difficulty breathing or wheezing.
CDPHE recommends the following steps to stay healthy and help maintain healthcare system access for those who are experiencing RSV-related symptoms.
- Getting vaccinated. Both flu and COVID-19 have effective, safe vaccines. Anyone 6 months and older can get vaccinated for flu and COVID-19. It is safe to get the vaccines together. There is no vaccine for RSV.
- Seeing or calling a health care provider or doctor before going to a busy emergency department when you or your child has respiratory symptoms. Your provider can help you determine the best ways to manage symptoms and when it is important to be seen in the clinic, urgent care, or emergency department.
- Staying home when sick, including not visiting or interacting with people who may be at higher risk, including older adults, young children, and infants. This is important to preventing the spread of viruses and causing outbreaks, which put additional strain on the hospital system.
- Wearing a mask in crowded places if you are experiencing symptoms
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or upper arm sleeve when you cough or sneeze, throw away the tissue after you use it, and clean hands as instructed above.
- Cleaning potentially contaminated surfaces, like doorknobs, tables, handrails, etc.
- Avoiding sharing cups, eating utensils, and touching your face with unwashed hands.
“What might feel like a mild cold for you can be very serious for another person,” Wineland said. “If we all do our part, we can help protect kids from getting sick and prevent the strain on our pediatric health care system.”
If your child is demonstrating early signs of RSV, consider calling a health care provider. Your provider can help you determine the best ways to manage symptoms and when it is important to be seen in the clinic, urgent care, or emergency department. If it is an emergency, pleasecall 9-1-1.