Utah is still experiencing an RSV and flu surge
Nationwide flu hospitalizations are the “highest we have seen at this time of year in a decade,” according to a Dec. 5 briefing given by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s a picture that’s ringing true for health professionals in Utah. Data from Intermountain Healthcare’s Germ Watch show high levels of respiratory syncytial virus and the flu throughout much of the state.
RSV presents with cold-like symptoms like a cough or runny nose and can be particularly severe for children under the age of 2 and people over 75. There is currently no RSV vaccine.
Health professionals have said RSV surges generally follow a predictable pattern, but it’s still difficult to estimate where it goes in the coming weeks.
“We do know that we've seen increases since early October and we've really just seen a consistent climb since then,” said Utah Department of Health and Human Services epidemiologist Janelle Delgadillo. “So far it doesn't really seem like there's a downward trend yet.”
Due to the surge, Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital announced on Nov. 28 that it will delay some pre-scheduled and non-emergency procedures.
While hospitals across the state are seeing elevated cases of respiratory diseases, Primary Children’s could be harder hit because of an influx of patients from outside the area.
“If we're seeing those younger kids, typically they'll be sent down to Primary Children's,” said Wasatch County Health Department Epidemiology Program Manager Chris Smoot. “And I believe that's probably why Primary Children’s has seen such an increase in admitted patients. Probably a lot of hospitals are sending their little ones that need hospitalization for RSV down there as opposed to taking care of them in-house.”
Smoot said exact RSV numbers could be hard to track since most cases are minor. However, trends for RSV and the flu seem to be similar across the state.
“We are seeing in southwestern Utah higher than normal RSV cases,” said the Southwest Utah Public Health Department’s David Heaton. “What we're really looking at is with respiratory illnesses, it's just a nasty cold and flu season.”
Utah’s flu season typically peaks around January or February.