Wisconsin DHS: “Potentially very serious respiratory season”

Child uses nebulizer (FILE)
Child uses nebulizer (FILE)(123rf)
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 3:49 PM CDT
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(WSAW) - “This could be a potentially very serious respiratory season, especially for the children in Wisconsin.”

Those were the words from Tom Haupt, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Respiratory Disease Epidemiologist and Influenza Surveillance Coordinator. He briefed reporters from all over Wisconsin during a press call Wednesday regarding the state’s respiratory illnesses.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV is a major cause of respiratory illness in all age groups. Among infants and young children, it is the most common cause of bronchitis, croup, ear infections, and pneumonia. Both older adults, as well as infants and young children, are most likely to get serious complications if they get sick with RSV.

Usually, RSV season starts in the middle of December, and peaks at the end of January, or early February. However, last week Haupt said there were 800 cases of RSV. He expects that weekly caseload to grow to 1,000 cases weekly.

Haupt said there is currently no vaccine for RSV, but several vaccines are under trial status.

The risk of complications from both flu and RSV are highest among young children and the older population whose immune system may be altered by medical conditions or medications that they are taking.

Haupt urges parents of children with RSV to keep them home to help the children recover and not spread the illness.

Parents of children with underlying heart of lung condition or medical history that included a premature birth, should closely monitor their child for symptoms.

“We can’t wait to get those people to the physician. Even on the first sign of some potential infection, they need to be aware of the situation and call their provider and get their child checked out,” said Haupt.

As for the flu, Haupt said at this time they cannot predict the vaccine’s efficacy.

“But we are cautiously optimistic that it will improve from last year, based on the fact that several components of the vaccine have been improved.”

About 18% of people in Wisconsin have been vaccinated against influenza.