Health Officials Watching Out for Respiratory Virus

By Desirée Taylor
Senior Correspondent

The staff at Clara Maass Hospital is keeping a watchful eye on cases of RSV or respiratory syncytial virus.

“Usually when the CDC puts out an advisory, they’re monitoring this throughout the hospitals, they’re saying we’re seeing more RSV than normal this time of year,” explained Dr. Michael Eagan, Clara Maass ER associate director.

The CDC describes RSV as a common respiratory virus that affects the lungs and breathing passages. The CDC graph shows the spike in cases are mostly in North Jersey.

“We’re entering the season we see it. At this point we’ve been seeing sporadic cases,” Eagan said. “The child will come in with a fever, cough congestion. It’s a just a basic upper respiratory presentation is what we see. It usually children, younger than two, that is the age group we are seeing it in. Occasionally you can see it in somebody a little older than that.”

RSV can be serious for babies and the elderly. Monique Davis is a health educator with the Hudson Regional Health Commission.

“RSV is a cold-like virus. We do collect data. This year we’ve encouraged facilities to report more that what we’ve seen this year is no different than what we’ve seen the last five years,” said Davis.

Davis says better reporting may be the reason why Hudson County isn’t seeing the high levels reported by the CDC.

Medical professionals are also watching out for patients with flu symptoms. State officials say so far flu activity is moderate, but it’s still early in the flu season.

“We have actually seen eight cases in the past four weeks. So not a lot. Usually when we enter the flu season, we see 30 or 40 cases per week in the hospital,” Eagan said.

“We’re reporting high levels in Hudson County, in the northeast region. So the message is go out and get your flu shot. It’s not too late to do it. It is recommended for anyone from the ages of six months and older,” Davis said.

So far there are no new strains of the flu. But it can be serious for at-risk populations such as the very young and old and ill.