Coloradans can help reduce transmission of RSV in several ways.
• Stay home when you are sick, including not visiting or interacting with people who may be at
higher risk, including older adults, young children, and infants.
• Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Encourage children to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue or upper arm sleeve when they cough or sneeze, throw away the tissue after they use it, and clean hands as instructed above.
• Clean potentially contaminated surfaces, like doorknobs, tables, handrails, etc.
• Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils and touching your face with unwashed hands.
• If your child is demonstrating early signs of respiratory distress, consider taking them to their primary care doctor for evaluation.
***Colorado responds to sharp increase in RSV hospitalizations and outbreaks, supporting the coordination of hospitals as they plan for the possibility of more cases, shares information about how to reduce spread of virus***
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is monitoring an increase in hospitalizations and outbreaks for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). CDPHE today sent a Health Alert Network message to health care providers. Health care providers, including primary care and pediatric providers, can play an active role in helping families determine the best ways to help children with RSV, including home management and when a child should be seen in the clinic, urgent care, or emergency room. Cases are occurring earlier than usual in the respiratory illness season. CDPHE is supporting the coordination of hospitals as they plan for the possibility of more cases.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that 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. 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. RSV is typically more common in the late fall, winter, and early spring.
Currently, 95% of hospitalizations are among children. Additionally, CDPHE has seen a sharp increase in reported RSV outbreaks occurring in child care and school settings, with 42 confirmed outbreaks reported since Oct. 1, 2022. Among these outbreaks, more than half have had at least one person involved in the outbreak seek care at a hospital.
CDPHE is in frequent communication with K-12 schools, preschool programs, and child care facilities to provide information about RSV, including strategies to reduce transmission. Since the beginning of October, CDPHE has shared resources, such as the updated 2022-23 Guidance for Prevention & Control of Non-COVID-19 Respiratory Illnesses in Schools and Child Care Settings, How Sick is Too Sick tool, and Infectious Disease in School and Child Care Settings. CDPHE staff is also available for consultations with schools, child care providers, and our local public health partners to discuss resources and mitigation strategies for RSV and other infectious diseases. In addition, CDPHE today sent a Health Alert Network message to health care providers. The Health Alert Network message was aimed to raise awareness among these providers about the rise in RSV to ensure awareness about the increase of RSV in Colorado and what symptoms may be associated with an RSV infection.
Child care centers and schools can also play an active role in preventing the spread through increased handwashing, disinfecting surfaces and areas, and strict adherence to and implementing their illness policies.
Hospital reports indicate that the increase in RSV cases is putting a strain on the pediatric hospital system. The state is coordinating across all hospitals to protect hospital capacity.
Since Oct. 1, 2022, there have been 292 RSV-associated hospitalizations in the five-county Denver metropolitan area (Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties) and 42 outbreaks statewide. That’s more than double the number from the same timeframe in 2021.
“The increase in RSV-related hospitalizations in Colorado in recent weeks is very concerning. Fortunately, there are steps we can take individually through frequently washing your hands, disinfecting hard surfaces, and staying home when sick. Children with RSV can develop wheezing, poor feeding and dehydration, which can lead to hospitalization. Connecting with your primary care or pediatric provider if your child is not getting better may help to keep your child out of the hospital,” said Dr. Eric France, Pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer for CDPHE. CDPHE has issued a Health Action Network message to all health care providers and CDPHE is supporting the coordination of hospitals as they plan for the possibility of more cases,” said Dr. France. “We have learned a lot about how to respond effectively and coordinate as a state, but we need everyone to do their part. Practicing good hand hygiene and staying home when you are sick can help slow transmission of RSV and most viruses.”