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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Cottage Health in Santa Barbara has confirmed to News Channel that lab test results show a definite increase in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in children and infants.
“Right now, the numbers are skyrocketing,” said Dr. Christophe Le Renard, MD, director of medical information at Cottage Health.
He said the figures are skewed because in some cases parents are not bringing their children to get tested, especially if the symptoms are not severe. However, Le Renard said as of this week, the hospital is seeing the numbers go up a bit.
“Last week of tests 42 were positive compared to 21 the week before. Nine the week before.”
The next set of local RSV case numbers are expected next week.
Le Renard links the surge in cases of RSV and other viruses to mask-wearing and good COVID-19 prevention practices over the past two years.
“And now these kids are getting RSV and they’re getting it as a basic cold, but the problem is they’re bringing it home to their infant siblings who have no immunity. against RSV. And that’s why I think we’re seeing this big bump right now.”
News Channel reached out to the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) after hearing about a noticeable increase in reported local school absences. Ed Zuchelli, SBUSD Chief Communications Officer, responded with the following statement:
“We are committed to providing safe and healthy schools for all students and staff. We have been closely monitoring RSV in schools since the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health issued the advisory. We are always on the lookout for trends that could impact the health of our community as a whole so we know how best to respond. As always, we are coordinating with health officials as these potential trends arise. »
RSV mainly affects young infants, especially those who are premature or have chronic lung problems or asthma. The elderly are also vulnerable. Severity can range from mild to life-threatening.
The symptoms are similar to those of the common cold. In infants, it starts with a runny nose. Le Renard said that by day 3, RSV can really take hold in the lungs and deeper airways.
“RSV typically gets deep into the bronchioles (small airways) and causes damage and causes a lot of mucus. There is no treatment to kill the virus,” Le Renard said.
The Fox shares the types of symptoms that parents should be most concerned about.
“I would recommend parents bring their young toddlers if they are worried, especially about their breathing. If they (young children) are really having trouble breathing, they look like they have trouble breathing. And, usually you’ll see their feedings drop too.”
In extreme cases, oxygen, ventilators, or intravenous fluids are used to support babies with RSV. Le Renard said that in older children, steroid treatments can sometimes be more effective.
RSV can last about four weeks; The Fox said the deep cough alone can last up to six weeks.
Scientists have been working for decades to develop a vaccine against RSV. Drugmaker Pfizer says its vaccine in the pipeline could be available next year.