Pediatrician advises precautions as RSV and flu are on the rise

Pediatrician advises precautions as RSV and flu are on the rise

Pediatrician advises precautions as RSV and flu are on the rise

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns are excited to return to their Thanksgiving traditions after two years of restrictions under the coronavirus pandemic. But, just because COVID-19 is not so widespread, does not mean that we should not take precautions.

“For the last few years, the main thing we’ve been worried about is that it’s spreading through family gatherings,” said Dr. Per Gesteland, a pediatric hospitalist at Primary Children Hospital and University of Utah Health.

There is less concern about COVID-19 this year, he said, but more RSV and flu concerns. Right now, those viruses are still sending children to hospitals.

“We’re surviving up here,” Gesteland said, referring to Primary Children’s Hospital. “We’re running 95-100% capacity and it’s definitely busy.”

We are facing a viral blizzard, he said.

Gesteland helped create high risk 20 years ago, which shows us that RSV and influenza are on the rise in much of the state today. RSV can be especially difficult for children, the elderly, and those with high health risks.

“It started in October and then it really took off,” the doctor said. “The slope for our outbreak last year was a little bit milder. This year it’s a very steep slope, suggesting very rapid transmission through our communities.”

The flu is just starting to pick up in Utah, lagging behind the increase in hospitalizations in other states.

“We expect things to only get worse for a few more weeks from now before we start to see a break in our flu activity,” Gesteland said.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 still has more than 120 people hospitalized across the state.

On average, one person still dies every day from complications related to COVID-19.

“Covid is still around and it’s still definitely causing problems,” the doctor said.

A gathering of healthy people should be fine this holiday, he said. If you or your children are sick, stay home and avoid contact with vulnerable people. It advises that we wash our hands regularly and avoid close contact with anyone who coughs or sneezes.

“We’ve made great progress in vaccinating people against COVID,” Gesteland said. “So we all feel a little bit better, especially vulnerable populations.”


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