As cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) continue to increase nationwide, so too do the number of infections in North Central Washington.

Over the past 90 days, Washington's Rapid Health Information Network has reported 223 cases of the illness in Chelan and Douglas Counties.

Dr. James Wallace, interim health officer with the Chelan-Douglas Health District (CDHD), says the region most likely has a long way to go before it will see a decline in case rates.

"We are in the thick of it right now, to say the least. But I expect RSV numbers are going to continue to rise in our part of the state because we're also very early on in the season for flu and other respiratory illnesses."

RSV is highly communicable and spreads in a similar fashion to COVID-19, but is not in the same family of viruses.

Young children are the most susceptible to RSV and 70% of the cases reported in Chelan and Douglas Counties over the past 90 days have been in people four years of age and under.

Preventative measures for this age group are generally less effective in contrast to older kids and adults, but Wallace says there are several things parents can do to protect young children.

"Parents can prevent RSV's spread with frequent hand washing and by wearing masks. They should also strongly consider keeping kids at home and away from really crowded public places whenever possible. RSV is spreading rapidly out there and it's hard to know who has it and where you might contract it. Most of the people who get it that we talk to through CDHD say they aren't totally certain where they got the illness."

The symptoms of RSV include a persistent cough, fever, and difficulty breathing.
Severe cases of the illness can require hospitalization, although few result in death.

Of the 223 cases reported in Chelan and Douglas Counties over the past 90 days, 14% required admittance to a hospital and none have proven fatal.

Wallace encourages people to seek the services of their primary care physician or a walk-in clinic instead of the emergency room if they or their children contract the illness; Noting that most cases can be managed with out-patient care and don't require emergent care.

For more information about what steps to take in the event you or your child gets RSV, go to the CDHD website by clicking here.

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