A variety of viruses impacting the population…so wash your hands!
[ By Mark Reaman ]
The winter crud cycle appears to be hitting the valley in full force as we start off the year 2023. Cases of influenza, RSV, COVID and strep are making their mark in the valley and the expectation is that it will not be going away any time soon.
Jodie Leonard, Gunnison Valley Health infection prevention director said last week that, “there is a ton of influenza, mostly group A, in our community right now. For every positive COVID or RSV test, we have at least three or four positive flu tests.” As of the week after New Year’s Day, there has been a small shift as GVH is still seeing many respiratory illnesses. Leonard said “there has been less influenza and RSV and an increase in COVID cases, likely due to tourism. We are also seeing some strep cases starting to occur.”
The numbers may be growing but serious cases requiring hospitalization are still lean. “There have been two hospital admissions, one for COVID and one for influenza and one child with RSV who was transferred,” said GVH marketing and communication director Joelle Ashley. Leonard added that as far as numbers at the hospital, “we have had more admissions than usual for this time of year, but nothing that has put any department over capacity or in an unmanageable state.”
For most people dealing with the crud, she said the symptoms are what you would expect. “We are seeing everything from symptoms similar to a common cold to severe flu-like symptoms. We are also seeing more people with shortness of breath this season, possibly due to long-term COVID effects,” she explained.
Leonard said it is time to take the standard precautions. “The best ways to protect yourself is to wash hands often, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home when you are sick and wear a mask when in public places or close to others,” she advised. “Masks protect against flu, COVID, RSV, strep and lots of other respiratory illnesses, so it is a very effective tool.”
Ashley said predictive models expect this to continue for the majority of the winter season. “We expect to see a continued increase in COVID cases, but not much expectation for admissions,” she said.
“As people travel, eat meals together and spend more time unmasked, many respiratory illnesses are expected to spread this winter season,” concluded Leonard.