A surge in RSV cases is combining with flu and COVID-19 to create a tripledemic.
As we’ve moved into the winter months, we again find ourselves in the middle of cold and flu season. However, this year we’re seeing a rise in another threat — respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Due to the various COVID-19 prevention measures of the last few years — such as masking and social distancing — instances of RSV were relatively limited. But with communities now fully open and more children going back to the classroom, it only makes sense that there’s been a notable increase in cases.
With the mixture of flu & RSV combining with the persistent presence of COVID-19, officials are now calling our current health crisis a “tripledemic.” On that news, we were hoping to provide some insight into RSV and offer some tips on staying safe during this time.
What is RSV?
In short, RSV is a virus that causes infections in the lungs and respiratory tract. Historically, it’s been relatively common, with most children having been infected with the virus by the time they reach two years of age.
Symptoms of RSV tend to mirror those of the common cold — congestion, dry cough, low-grade fever, sore throat, etc. However, infants and immunocompromised individuals can experience severe symptoms — high fever, severe cough & difficulty breathing, and the potential to develop into pneumonia.
How does RSV spread?
Similar to COVID-19 and flu, RSV is spread when someone comes into contact with droplets from an infected person’s throat or nose, typically released when they cough or sneeze. These respiratory secretions can be found on bedding, clothes, and similar items, and can remain active on hard surfaces for several hours.
What impact can it have on healthcare systems?
People being infected with RSV has a substantial impact on our healthcare systems. According to the American Journal of Infection Control, when an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit comes down with RSV, it can lead to longer durations of hospital stays, increased antibiotic use, and the need for more mechanical ventilation equipment. All of these can lead to a significant jump in direct costs for the hospital, with some categories seeing an increase of over 440%.
These numbers are bad in and of themselves. But when coupled with the expenses that can already arise from flu and COVID, the total costs could be staggering.
How can you protect against RSV?
With the effects of RSV infection being so detrimental, you must take all measures you can to better protect your patients and staff. And while standard disinfection and control practices can fight the virus, one of the best methods you could use is UV-C disinfection.
Studies have shown that UV-C is effective at inactivating the virus, and this result can be accomplished with a dose of about 10-15mj/cm2. And with our OhmniClean self-driving disinfection robot, you can get total room coverage of UV light, ensuring that no spot is missed and a thorough disinfection is achieved. Best of all, since the robot is autonomous, you limit the amount of viral exposure to staff members, better protecting them from potential infection.
As RSV cases continue to rise — along with COVID-19, flu, and the other number of viruses that tend to rear up in the winter — proper disinfection will be crucial. Keeping patients safe has always been the top priority for any hospital, and for unprecedented times like these of the tripledemic, administrators should utilize the best tools available to do so.