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Manage Client Risk for RSV

The weather is getting colder and holiday music is playing in every store, but there is another thing that comes around this time of the year: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV infections are on the rise, which is typical for the season, but this year has seen an unprecedented surge in RSV cases.

Cases of RSV in the U.S. began appearing in early spring and are now 60% higher than 2021’s peak week, according to CNN. Scientists say this increase is likely due to the preventative measures encouraged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staying at home, physical distancing, wearing masks and increased handwashing have limited the spread of COVID-19 as well as other respiratory viruses. Now that those preventative measures are not as prevalent, viruses are more easily spread. This includes RSV and influenza.

Our preventative measures during the pandemic have created an “immunity gap” that makes some more susceptible to RSV. Children build a natural immunity to viruses when they are exposed to those viruses. Children born just before or during the pandemic have been less exposed to viruses and likely have a decreased immunity to them.

RSV causes cold-like symptoms and usually affects young children and older adults. Some infants can show more severe symptoms. Children with underlying conditions that caregivers see regularly in home care are at high risk for severe RSV infections and need to take special precautions. These underlying conditions include:

  • Premature infants
  • Infants, especially those younger than six months old
  • Children younger than two years old with chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease
  • Children with suppressed immune systems
  • Children who have neuromuscular disorders, including those who have difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus secretions

Likewise, older adults with chronic conditions are also at a higher risk of severe infections. These high-risk individuals include:

  • Older adults, especially those 65 years and older
  • Adults with chronic lung or heart disease
  • Adults with weakened immune systems

There is no vaccine for RSV but there are ways to help prevent the spread, many of which probably sound familiar:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue instead of your hand
  • Stay at home if your loved one who is at high risk for RSV is sick
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet

Home care clients, both pediatric and adult, have a high likelihood of being in the high-risk groups. Caregivers should be aware of the increased RSV infections and take the above precautions as well as instruct clients and their families on preventative measures that will keep everyone safer during this most wonderful time of the year.

Axxess Home Care, a cloud-based home care solution, offers mobile documentation capabilities to accurately track and monitor patients in real time.


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