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Flu and RSV cases are rising in the islands

Health experts agree that the unseasonably early surges of RSV cases, especially among children, are a consequence of lifting COVID-19 precautions, which served to protect the public from a variety of viruses.
CDC via AP
This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV.

Cases of the flu and a respiratory virus known as RSV are rising in the islands. Respiratory Syncytial Virus is common and causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

Most people can recover in a week or two. But children under the age of 5 and older adults with underlying conditions are at high risk of severe infection.

State health officials are noticing an uptick in RSV hospitalizations and urge residents to take simple preventive measures.

"These are all viruses that are very familiar to us, and to our physicians and health systems. The concern right now with our health systems is seeing them all at once," said state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble.

"So whatever we can do to slow down transmission, to take extra care and precautions, to wash our hands, cover our coughs, stay home when we’re sick and wear a mask — if that is another measure that can reduce your risk of transmitting to others or getting infected," she said. "So those are things that can slow down transmission, and just make it a little easier on our very hardworking health care providers and community."

Kemble said local hospitals still have capacity and are managing the uptick in admissions. She said there have been no recorded deaths of RSV.

RSV and flu cases declined sharply during the pandemic as COVID-19 mitigation measures also prevented the spread of these viruses, the health department said.

In recent weeks, out of an average of 1,858 RSV tests performed per week statewide, 23% were positive, the department said.

Health officials also recommend flu shots for those 6 months and older.

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