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Protecting the Elderly from RSV

Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV is a common respiratory virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms. While some people can recover within 1-2 weeks, it can be severe for others, such as the elderly or individuals with chronic illnesses. According to the CDC, approximately 60,000-160,000 older adults are hospitalized annually due to RSV.

RSV can spread through virus droplets through a cough or sneeze, or direct contact with a person or surface that has the virus. Symptoms of RSV usually appear within 4-6 days after being infected and can include runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, wheezing, and decreased appetite. In severe cases of RSV, individuals can develop a lung infection or pneumonia, requiring hospitalization.

Older adults are at greater risk for developing serious complications of RSV due to their weakened immune systems. Here is how we can all help to keep the elderly and high risk populations safe from RSV:

1.       Wash your hands with soap and water often. In a past post, we highlighted the importance of healthy hand hygiene.

2.       Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands as this causes germs to spread.

3.       Use a tissue to cover your coughs and sneezes and discard when finished.

4.       Clean high touch surfaces often such as the door knob, children’s toys, phone and other electronic devices, keys. etc.

5.       Stay home if you are not feeling well to minimize the spread to others.

RSV vaccines are available to help protect adults aged 60 and older from the virus. Consult your doctor for guidance to see if the vaccine is best for you.






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