SFD and Public Health issue info on respiratory illnesses impacting children

Above: The Town issued guidance information on respiratory illnesses in children, including a video featuring an Epidemiologist and a BOH member discussing RSV. (image from video)

With a rise in respiratory illnesses in the state, including 4 children transported by the Southborough Fire Dept to the hospital in the past 2 months, the SFD and Public Health Department issued a message to residents with information and guidance on RSV and the Flu.

The main focus is on the impacts for children.

The following letter was posted to the Town’s website this morning:

A Joint message from the Southborough Fire & Health Departments

Dear Southborough Residents,

Massachusetts is currently seeing increases in respiratory illnesses, resulting in an increase in emergency room (ER) visits and longer wait times. Most of these illnesses are caused by respiratory viral infections, including common viruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and flu, as well as COVID-19.

In the last 2 months, Southborough Fire Department has had 4 pediatric transports for respiratory-related illnesses. Dr. Carey, an Emergency Medicine physician at UMass Memorial Medical Center, reports local hospitals are seeing a significant increase in pediatric patients that need to be admitted to the hospital. The number of beds is limited, and hospitals are at or over capacity, which may lead to patients spending more time in the ER, and a longer than normal wait for patients coming into the ER for treatment.

Information on Flu

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, cough, and sore throat and last for a few days to a week or more. People sick with flu should make sure to drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods, wash their hands often and stay home to avoid spreading the flu to other people. During the week of November 27 to December 3, the overall influenza severity in Massachusetts and the Central region was very high. Currently, 37.88% of all MA residents have received the flu vaccine this season. To find a vaccine appointment near you, visit vaccine.gov. For more data visit MDPH’s interactive influenza dashboard.

Information on RSV

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms and lasts about 1-2 weeks. RSV can be serious in certain people, in particular infants and older adults with compromised immune systems. Symptoms of RSV include fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing, difficulty feeding, pneumonia, and asthma exacerbations.

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. For more information on RSV visit cdc.gov/rsv. Isabella Caruso, Regional Epidemiologist from the Greater Boroughs Partnership for Health, recently sat down over Zoom with Dr. Safdar Medina, a pediatrician at Tri-River Family Health Center in Uxbridge, MA, and a Southborough resident, to talk about RSV. We discussed common questions related to RSV infection for young kids, including symptoms and prevention strategies.

[Editor’s Note: Scroll to bottom to the recording.]*

Additional Guidance for Families with Children: To prevent illness this season, Massachusetts Department of Health recommends influenza and COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months and older, as well as practicing good hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and cleaning high-touch surfaces. Additionally, it is important to avoid social gatherings and daycare or school if your children are ill. MDPH recommends keeping children home from daycare or school who have a fever, especially a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever. Lastly, contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider in non-emergency situations if you believe you or your child needs medical care. Your provider can offer advice on whether you or your child needs to be evaluated in person and the best location (doctor’s office, urgent care, emergency room) for care. This will alleviate some strain in the emergency room and ensure hospitals have the capacity to care for high-risk patients. For more information visit: cdc/gov/prevent

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season! If you have questions, please contact the Southborough Health Department at (508) 481-3013.

*Editor’s Note: For some reason, linking to a specific YouTube video no longer works within my posts, but embedding them does. Below is the video referenced above of Isabella Caruso and Dr. Safdar Medina (who is also the Vice Chair of Southborough’s Board of Health and NSBORO’s District Physician) discussing RSV in children:

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