The Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) has caused a flu outbreak at the Austinville Elementary school, in Decatur, Alabama leading to its closure on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The flu has infected almost 100 plus students and around 30% of the school staff were also showing symptoms of fever and cold. The RSV is a seasonal flu that spreads mostly in the time of fall, winter, and spring. It is a highly transmissible viral infection that affects the lower respiratory tract of children and adults.
The flu gets transmitted from person to person through infected droplets that the affected person exhales through breathing. It can also spread through hard and soft surfaces like table tops, and hands. Door knobs etc.
What Safety Precautions Should We Take?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a large percentage of kids under the age of 2 are likely to be exposed to RSV.
It also affects older people with low immunity. Usually, RSV is considered to be a non-lethal infection with symptoms like runny nose, cough, low-grade fever, loss of appetite, etc and typically the recovery period is around one to two weeks. But it can aggravate some children and adults whose immunity is weakened or if they have some other preexisting conditions.
These individuals can even transmit the infection for up to four weeks even after their symptoms have gone. In its severe form, RSV can lead to acute bronchiolitis (lung airway inflammation) and pneumonia (lung infection). RSV flu can be kept at bay by following some basic safety considerations.
- Keep the house clean and hygienic.
- Keep away from children if you have a cold or other symptoms.
- Wear a mask whenever you go outside or while interacting with kids.
- Wash hands with soap for around 20 seconds at regular intervals.
- Once the child has the infection, give plenty of fluids so that they stay hydrated.
- A nasal suction tube can be used to remove excess nasal fluids in kids.
As RSV is a seasonal flu, both parents and children can be better prepared to guard themselves against the flu. A Palivizumab vaccination is available for eligible children and adults who are immunocompromised or are suffering from any other health issues especially lung, heart, or neuromuscular issues. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the on-set time of RSV is from mid-September to mid-November. This would explain the flu outbreak at Austinville Elementary School.
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The Decatur City Schools (DCS) Director of Communications Elizabeth Gentle said that they use different ways to communicate with parents. A Blackboard system is also used to send alerts to parents.
Social media platforms and e-mails are also used to keep the communication channel active. Ms. Gentle also assured that they are in active contact with the Austinville Elementary principal and administration so that any further notifications or updates shall be informed at the earliest.
As of now, students will be shifting to the remote learning mode and further decisions would be taken only after evaluating the situation after Wednesday. If you are suspicious or concerned that you or your child has RSV, please consult the nearest healthcare expert for further recommendations and treatment procedures.
Since the symptoms of RSV are not severe, it can’t be distinguished from a common cold but in some cases, the doctor might take a mouth swab or blood test to confirm the presence of the Virus. If the symptoms are severe then the doctor can ask for a CT scan or chest X-ray to evaluate the presence of any infection in the lungs.
Some of the symptoms which require emergency medical supervision are Wheezing, feeling tired and drowsy, and a blue tint on lips and fingernails.
🔵Mayo Clinic (1998-2022) Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (Available On):https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/respiratory-syncytial-virus/symptoms-causes/syc-20353098
🔵Cleveland Clinic (n.d) Respiratory Syncytial Virus in Children and Adults (Available On):https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8282-respiratory-syncytial-virus-in-children-and-adults
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