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Nationwide RSV spike present in South Dakota

Health experts agree that the unseasonably early surges of RSV cases, especially among children, are a consequence of lifting COVID-19 precautions, which served to protect the public from a variety of viruses.
AP
Health experts agree that the unseasonably early surges of RSV cases, especially among children, are a consequence of lifting COVID-19 precautions, which served to protect the public from a variety of viruses.

Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, are spiking across the country. What do you need to know to keep yourself and your kids healthy?

RSV is a viral illness that, while frequently is no worse than a nasty cold, can become more serious when paired with preexisting conditions or certain age groups.

Joseph Segeleon is vice president and medical officer at Sanford Children’s. He said RSV is a familiar foe.

“I would say under most circumstances we see at least yearly, sometimes twice a year," Segeleon said. "Nationwide, we are seeing significant numbers of RSV cases both as an outpatient and inpatient including critically ill children. Certainly, in the Sioux Falls region and the Dakotas we are seeing the same thing.”

Segeleon said there are theories about this season’s severity.

“Since most individuals have had RSV by age 2, and certainly Covid and the pandemic and the social limitations we had, that certainly reduced the number of infections in the community," Segeleon said. "People are hypothesizing that period of time we had less infectious disease has increased the number of children that are infected currently.”

The good news? You probably already know how to prevent spread.

“RSV is a virus, and it’s a common virus," Segeleon said. "What you do is the specific things you do to try and keep your children and yourself healthy during raspatory season. Not sending your child to school or daycare if they’re sick. Good cough hygiene where you cough into your elbow. Probably the most significant thing you can do is good hand hygiene where you wash your hands frequently.”

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, RSV is the most common cause of respiratory tract illness, including pneumonia and bronchitis, in children under 2 years of age.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering education, healthcare, arts and culture.