Several cases of the respiratory syncytial virus are present in the territory, with seven hospitalizations so far this season, the V.I. Department of Health announced Sunday.
Respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, is a respiratory infection typically experienced by children but can also affect adults and present with severe complications in those with weakened immune systems, the department said in a press release. It is extremely common in children less than 2 years of age and usually causes mild symptoms such as fever, cough, and runny nose.
However, it can also cause pneumonia or bronchiolitis, which are lung infections requiring oxygen and antibiotics in a hospital setting, according to the department. RSV can cause various complications depending on a person’s age and health status, it said.
National RSV cases are high, with a significant rise in pediatric hospitalizations. V.I. hospitals have had several treated cases of RSV in the fall months. The Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas reports six hospitalizations and the Juan F. Luis Medical Center on St. Croix reports one hospitalization during this fall season, the department said.
RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 can cause very similar symptoms and complications. Co-infections with more than one of these viruses can occur and cause worse outcomes. Parents are urged to vaccinate their children ages 6 months and older against influenza and COVID-19, the Health Department said. There is currently no vaccine for RSV.
The department also advised residents to adhere to respiratory hygiene with frequent hand-washing, coughing into elbows/tissue, and staying at home while sick.