By Tamer Abouras
In the midst of an unseasonably warm winter across several parts of the United States, it can easy to forget that with the season’s beginning comes the return of those inevitable respiratory infections and viruses.
As you batten down the proverbial hatches, making sure to take every opportunity to wash your hands, avoid public places when you don’t have to be in them and keep tissues nearby at all times, some hospitals are even going a step further and restricting (or even outright banning) children’s visits due to increasing cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
SEE ALSO: Preventing Respiratory Syncytial Virus
In Pennsylvania, Geisinger Health System is temporarily banning children under 5-years-old from visiting certain parts of the hospital. According to CitizensVoice.com, “A seasonal increase in pediatric respiratory virus cases has caused Geisinger Health System officials to issue a temporary ban on young children visiting some units at Geisinger medical facilities in the region. The temporary ban prohibits children under 5 from visiting children’s and women’s inpatient units at Geisinger facilities, including Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.”
Elsewhere, in North Carolina, Greenville’s Vidant Medical Center is instituting similar restrictions. Per The Daily Reflector, “Only children age 12 and older can visit patients at James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital as of 8 a.m. today due to increasing numbers of Respiratory Syncytial Virus and other viral respiratory illnesses cases.”
Although RSV presents like the common cold, there is no cure once one is infected by it and a person with it is contagious for three to eight days thereafter. As CitizensVoice noted, “RSV is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. While most healthy people recover from RSV infection, it can be severe in infants. Winter is an especially harsh time for this illness.”
And while these two health systems are hoping these particular visitation restrictions and bans will soon be lifted, others make use of them annually as a way of heading off problems. WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina — one such healthcare facility that enacts these precautionary bans — states its reasoning plainly.
“Every year during the fall, winter and early spring, we restrict visitation to our Children’s Hospital and our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The reason: to protect our patients from viruses like RSV. You may have never heard of RSV, but there is a very good chance that you HAVE had it. For most people, RSV acts just like a common cold, but for the very young or immunocompromised, RSV can cause serious problems and may even require mechanical ventilation.”
So as you prepare to embark on this New Year, remember that resolutions are hard enough to keep. You don’t need RSV to come around and make yours impossible.