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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of severe lower respiratory tract disease and hospitalization in newborns and children. Like many hospitals across the country, Salinas Valley Memorial is experiencing an increased number of pediatric patient visits for respiratory illnesses, approximately 50% with RSV. Influenza virus is also prevalent in the community. The number of pediatric respiratory case is anticipated to be higher this season compared to prior years, as many children were able to avoid these viruses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. All newborns – especially preterm infants born before 37 weeks – are at high risk of severe respiratory infection due to incomplete maturity of their pulmonary and immune systems.

While there is no RSV vaccine, there are steps parents can take to help prevent the spread and keep their children healthy:

  1. Wear a mask: Extended family members and friends should wear a mask when holding the baby or providing care for the baby. Parents should consider wearing masks if experiencing respiratory symptoms.
  2. Stay away if sick: Extended family members and friends – especially small children – should not be physically close to the baby if having respiratory symptoms including fevers.
  3. Wash your hands: Everyone in the household should practice good hand washing habits. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially before holding or touching the baby.
  4. Get the flu vaccine: Anyone over 6 months of age can get the influenza vaccine. Many of the pediatric patients evaluated or admitted to Salinas Valley Memorial test positive for influenza. Severe illness is preventable by getting a yearly vaccine.

Learn more about RSV on the CDC website at cdc.gov/rsv