Pediatrician advises precautions as RSV and flu are rampant

Pediatrician advises precautions as RSV and flu are rampant

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SALT LAKE CITY – Utahns are excited to return to their Thanksgiving tradition after two years of restrictions under the coronavirus pandemic. But, just because COVID-19 it’s not that widespread, it doesn’t mean we don’t need to take precautions.

“For the past few years, COVID has been the main thing we’ve been worried about at family gatherings,” said Dr. Per Gesteland, a pediatrician at Primary Children’s Hospital and University of Utah Health.

This year there are fewer worries about COVID-19, he said, but more concern about RSV and flu. Right now those viruses are still sending kids to the hospital.

“We’re surviving up here,” Gesteland said, referring to Primary Children’s Hospital. “We were at 95-100% capacity and it was 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 most of the state today. RSV can be especially difficult for children, the elderly, and people with advanced health conditions.

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

The flu has just begun to rise in Utah, lagging behind the increase in hospitalizations seen in other states.

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

Meanwhile, more than 120 people across the country are still hospitalized due to COVID-19.

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.

Gatherings of healthy people should be fine for this holiday, he said. If you or your children are sick, stay home and avoid contact with vulnerable people. He advises that we wash our hands regularly and avoid close contact with people who are coughing or sneezing.

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


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