If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
RSV is a very common virus that mutates quickly and normally spreads during the winter months. When we say it’s very common, we mean it. Nearly a quarter of adults are infected every year (in normal years) and virtually ALL children have antibodies by the time they’re toddlers. For most, it’s like a common cold, but for very young kids and for older adults, it can be very dangerous. It’s so bad right now because, in normal years, kids and adults alike are out and about, being exposed, developing antibodies, and getting sick throughout the winter. But right now, all those people have been taking COVID precautions for three years, which all but eliminated other viruses like RSV from circulation for that time. It’s back now, and all these kids (and adults) have no immunity built up over the past few years, so they’re all getting infected around the same time, which is stressing hospitals to the max, especially those with pediatric emergency departments.
Actually, yes, there is a difference. RSV is spread via larger droplets and particles, so washing hands and the surfaces of children’s toys really can prevent the spread of RSV, much more so than for COVID. With COVID, we discovered a while back that it’s primarily spread through aerosolized respiratory droplets that are much smaller and spread through the air, which means that disinfecting surfaces and handwashing doesn’t do nearly as much as a mask in terms of preventing the spread of the virus. RSV is different, so disinfecting high-traffic touchpoints and washing your hands is more important than ever.
We are continuing to recommend a five-day work exclusion for anyone with a specific set of symptoms, including new fever, shortness of breath, cough, both GI and cold symptoms together, or three or more significant flu/COVID/cold symptoms. The reality is that there’s very little practical difference between flu and COVID in terms of whether it’s safe to work sick - it’s not! And like with COVID, there are relatively few people with the flu who will feel well enough to work much before their fifth day, anyway. We’ll continue to evaluate this year’s flu strains and how they’re affecting symptoms, but until we know more, it’s safest and simplest to keep the same exclusion length for COVID and the flu, especially since it’s very hard to tell them apart without testing.
There’s only one way to eliminate the risk of long COVID, and that’s never getting COVID at all. Barring that, there are a few ways to reduce your risk of having long-term effects. First, getting vaccinated and staying up to date on boosters reduces the risk of long COVID by up to 50%. And getting treated with Paxlovid can also reduce your risk of long COVID by up to 26%. If you’re COVID positive and worried about long COVID, talk with your doctor about whether treating it with Paxlovid is right for you.
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