Central Alberta already has more respiratory virus cases than in 2016

Red Deer-area residents warned to take precautions against spreading virus

This flu season is worse than usual for cases of respiratory virus.

“We have already seen more… outbreaks and positive lab specimens across the province at this point in the season than in the 2015/16 season, in full,” says Dr. Gerry Predy, Senior Medical Officer of Health for Alberta Health Services.

“The volume is higher, which means heightened risk — particularly for infants.”

Due to the increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) outbreaks, Alberta Health Services is reminding all infected Albertans to refrain from visiting infants, children and vulnerable individuals while sick.

RSV usually causes the same symptoms as a bad cold, including a cough, stuffy or runny nose, mild sore throat, earache and fever. However, in some people, particularly the young, RSV may lead to more severe complications requiring hospital care — such as bronchiolitis (an infection of the small airways) and pneumonia.

RSV is not preventable by vaccine, so sick people need to take preventative measures. “If you’re feeling sick, don’t visit the vulnerable. This includes infants, seniors and those with compromised immune systems,” says Dr. Predy.

He also reminds Albertans to wash their hands frequently, and stay home from work, school and social activities while sick.

As of Jan. 17, there were 14 RSV outbreaks confirmed, compared to nine in the full 2015/16 season.

As of Jan. 14, more than 2,000 positive lab specimens were confirmed for RSV, compared to approx. 1,300 in the full 2015/16 season. (Because some people are tested multiple times, positive lab specimens should not be interpreted as representing individual patients).

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