La Plata County officials have confirmed the presence of respiratory syncytial virus, a common but contagious respiratory illness that usually circulates in the fall and the winter months.
Residents at risk of severe respiratory infection are asked to take extra precautions to avoid getting sick, including the elderly and those with infant children.
“We typically see an increase this time of year in respiratory illnesses,” said San Juan Basin Public Health spokeswoman Megan Graham. “If you have symptoms and are concerned, you should contact your health care provider.”
RSV causes mild, cold-like symptoms in most people, and usually clears up in a week or two. However, this particular virus can be dangerous, especially in the most vulnerable populations.
“If you’re sick, stay at home,” Graham said. “That’s the biggest thing.”
In the United States, RSV is the most prevalent cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia in children under the age of 1.
“If people have recently had any other kind of respiratory illnesses, they need to be extra careful,” Graham said. “Take precautions.”
According to SJBPH, washing your hands helps prevent the spread of illnesses like RSV, as well as avoiding touching your face. Keeping a safe distance from sick people is always a good idea, and so is cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. If you are sick, cover your coughs and sneeze into a tissue, and if you can, avoid interactions with elderly adults.
SJBPH also advises those with high fevers and sore throats to get a COVID-19 test, even if they believe they have RSV. With influenza and COVID-19 also still spreading throughout La Plata County, residents are encouraged to get their vaccination shots.
“We just want to make sure folks are aware these infectious diseases are in our community and do everything they can to keep themselves from contracting them,” Graham said.