Para español, haga clic en "Select Language”
May 16, 2022
You are here : General  >  News & Information  >  Public Health Advisory

Public Health Advisory

Health Advisory - Increased Respiratory Illness Activity Among Children in Jackson County

Health Advisory - Increased Respiratory Illness Activity Among Children in Jackson County

Medford, OR – Colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses are more common in the fall and winter months. People are indoors more often, allowing respiratory viruses to pass more easily from person to person. Jackson County Public Health is seeing an increase in respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV), among younger children and children in daycare and preschool settings.

There is a sharp increase of RSV cases being detected in Southern Oregon. During week 48 (November 28 –December 4), the Southern Oregon region had a 21.3% test positivity rate for RSV. This is significantly higher than the statewide rate of 10.7%. Jackson County Public Health has also identified a higher than expected number of children, ages 0 to 4, being seen in the emergency departments for fever, cough, and/or sore throat.

Jackson County Public Health is issuing a Health Advisory to notify clinicians, caregivers, and the public about the increased RSV activity in Jackson County.

This advisory serves to remind parents/guardians to avoid sending children to daycare or school if they are acutely ill –even if they test negative for COVID-19. Children should not be in contact with others while they are symptomatic. Healthcare personnel, childcare providers, and staff of long-term care facilities should avoid reporting to work while acutely ill –even if they test negative for COVID-19.

Jackson County Public Health encourages broader testing for other respiratory infections such as RSV and flu among patients presenting with acute respiratory illness who test negative for COVID-19.

RSV primarily spreads through respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, and through direct contact with a contaminated surface. This is a highly contagious virus and people infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days. However, some infants, and people with weakened immune systems, can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as 4 weeks. Children are often exposed to and infected with RSV outside the home, such as in school or childcare centers. They can then transmit the virus to other members of the family. RSV can survive for many hours on hard surfaces such as tables and crib rails. It typically lives on soft surfaces such as tissues and hands for shorter amounts of time.

Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. People at highest risk for severe disease include premature infants, young children with congenital (from birth) heart or chronic lung disease, young children with compromised immune systems, adults with compromised immune systems and older adults with underlying heart or lung disease.

RSV decreased during the winter months of 2020–2021 due to public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.2 Therefore, older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they have likely not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months. In infants younger than six months, RSV infection may result in symptoms of irritability, poor feeding, lethargy, and/or apnea with or without fever. In older infants and young children, a runny nose and decreased appetite may appear one to three days before cough, often followed by sneezing, fever, and sometimes wheezing. Symptoms in adults are typically consistent with upper respiratory tract infections, including runny nose, pharyngitis, cough, headache, fatigue, and fever. There is no specific treatment for RSV infection other than symptom management.

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. Each year in the United States, RSV leads, on average, to 58,000 hospitalizations among children younger than 5 years old and 177,000 hospitalizations among adults 65 years and older.1

1. Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV): Trends and Surveillance. Reviewed December 18, 2020. Accessed December 10, 2021.

2. Haddadin Z, Schuster JE, Spieker AJ, et al. Acute Respiratory Illnesses in Children in the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic: Prospective Multicenter Study. Pediatrics. 2021;148(2):e2021051462. doi:10.1542/peds.2021-051462