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Help keep RSV from spreading

Tuesday, July 13, 2021   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: prevention, disease

A common winter virus called Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is currently spreading across New Zealand. The virus affects all age groups but is especially severe for babies/ pēpi and infants less than one year old. It is very infectious and can easily pass from person to person through coughing and sneezing.

What signs and symptoms to look out for

RSV has very similar symptoms to a bad cold or flu. These include:

  • a runny nose;
  • decrease in appetite;
  • coughing;
  • sneezing;
  • a fever - usually mid; and
  • wheezing or noisy breathing.

Please look out for the symptoms in children under the age of one especially, and contact your GP team or healthcare provider for advice if you are concerned.You can call your usual GP 24/7 for free advice on what to do and where to go.

Find out more about Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) [Ministry of Health].

When to seek urgent health advice

Parents and caregivers should seek urgent medical advice if their baby or infant has RSV symptoms and:

  • is under three months old;
  • is breathing fast, noisily or is having to use extra effort to breathe;
  • looks pale and unwell;
  • is taking less than half their normal feeds;
  • is vomiting; or
  • has not had a wet nappy for more than six hours.

Parents and caregivers should call 111 for an ambulance if a child:

  • has blue lips and tongue;
  • has severe difficulty breathing;
  • is becoming very sleepy and not easy to wake up;
  • is floppy; or
  • has breathing that is not regular, or they pause in their breathing.

Simple things you can do to help stop the spread of RSV and other winter illnesses

  • Keep children home if they’re sick and stay home if you are not well.
  • Wash your hands often with soap or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wear a mask or face covering on public transport or when you cannot physically distance from strangers.

Visitor restrictions at Christchurch and Burwood hospitals

Canterbury and West Coast DHBs’ Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ramon Pink says RSV can be very serious for young children and newborns in particular.

“For that reason the Canterbury DHB requests that only well-parents and caregivers visit their baby/ pēpi in hospital and ask people not to visit anyone if they are unwell. Fewer people in means less risk to the baby or patient."

Masks are advised for visitors to hospital where they cannot physically distance themselves from strangers or where they are visiting someone who may be particularly vulnerable.

Find out more about about visitor restrictions at Christchurch Hospital Campus and Burwood Hospital.