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Orange County health officials warn of surging pediatric Respiratory Syncytial Virus numbers

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Orange County health officials are issuing a public warning, strongly urging residents to take preventative measures as pediatric Respiratory Syncytial Virus numbers surge. 

In recent weeks, OCHA has tracked record-breaking numbers of pediatric hospitalizations and emergency room visits for the respiratory infection. 

"Orange County is seeing very high numbers of respiratory illness, specifically Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) severely impacting capacity in our pediatric hospitals," said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county's health officer and Chief Medical Officer for the Orange County Health Care Agency. " RSV can severely affect young infants and children and we are encouraging residents to take precautions, especially with groups of children."

She's warning parents to seek immediate medical attention for their children if they notice any of the warning signs associated with RSV, which include:

  • trouble breathing,
  • signs of dehydration,
  •  persistent or high fever,
  • appearing/acting very sick.

They're also advised to take any preventative measures necessary, like avoiding going to work or school when symptomatic, avoiding close contact with others, covering mouth when coughing or sneezing, wash hands frequently and mask whenever indoors or in a large outdoor public setting. 

Residents are encouraged to get both their COVID-19 vaccinations and flu shots to prevent complication from the illnesses. 

RSV infections traditionally see a rise during the fall and winter seasons, which causes bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under one year of age and places infants, young children, and older adults with chronic medical conditions at risk for more severe disease. 

According to OCHA, RSV leads to approximately 58,000 hospitalizations with 100- 500 deaths among children younger than 5 years old per year. Additionally, the elderly are also affected, with numbers averaging 177,000 hospitalizations with 14,000 deaths among adults, aged 65 years or older.

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