Flu Season

Respiratory Illness Fact Sheet for RSV, Influenza & Colds

Each year healthcare providers begin to see respiratory syncytial virus, colds and influenza in December and January. We may continue to see them through April. Based on the severity of the illnesses we may need to put procedures into place for your protection, the protection of your loved ones and others who are in our care. We hope this information sheet will help you understand how we are working to protect you.

Definition
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): is the major cause of lower respiratory tract illness (LRI) in children.

Infection in young children may present as:

  • Upper respiratory tract illness (URI) frequently accompanied by fever and ear infections
  • LRI such as pneumonia, bronchiolitis or tracheobronchitis

Infection in older children and adults may present as:

  • URI, complications of asthma or tracheobronchitis
  • May be asymptomatic

Influenza (Flu): is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs that can cause serious illness with signs/symptoms such as general aches/pains, fatigue/weakness, cough, fever lasting 3-4 days and headache.

Common Colds: are a viral infection with mild symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose, coughing, sneezing, head congestions and mild aches and pains.

What should I expect if my loved one or I have RSV or influenza?
We will want to break the chain of events that cause infections:

RSV infection:

  • We will place patients with RSV or suspected RSV in a type of isolation called "Contact Precautions". This is because RSV can be transmitted by direct contact with the patient, patient secretions and/or environmental surfaces.
  • We will ask you to wear gloves and a gown for handling your child or their respiratory secretions, or touching environmental surfaces. If you prefer not to wear a gown/gloves we ask that you not go to other areas in the hospital including the cafeteria. Ask the staff how to assist you in obtaining meals if needed.

Influenza is primarily spread by respiratory droplets in the air from coughing, sneezing, and talking.

  • It is also spread by hand-to-hand transmission, therefore handwashing is very important after coughing or sneezing (it will not live on physical inanimate objects).
  • We will place patients with Influenza in a type of isolation call "Droplet Precautions". You will see staff wearing a mask when working in close proximity.

Prevention
We want to prevent the spread of the respiratory illnesses by the following:

  • Limiting visitation of anyone that has the following sign/symptoms of illness:
    • Runny nose
    • Cough
    • Sneezing
    • Fever
  • Hand washing or use of alcohol hand gels is one of the most important ways to stop these infections from spreading.
  • Cover your cough, but remember to wash your hands afterwards so that you do not spread bacteria and viruses to anything you touch.
  • Asking family and friends that have been ill not to visit you while you are in the hospital.

Restriction of visitors

  • Visitors to the Pediatric, NICU, Labor & Delivery and Mother Newborn units may have visitor restrictions based on the activity within the organization at the time of your admission.
  • Routine restrictions during cold/flu season include but are not limited to:
    • NICU:
      • Healthy siblings over age 2 may be allowed to visit with parental supervision.
      • Adult visitors without signs or symptoms of cold or flu.
    • Pediatrics
      • Health siblings over age 12 may be allowed to visit with parental supervision.
      • Adult visitors without signs or symptoms of cold or flu.
    • Mother Newborn and Labor & Delivery:
      • Immediate family including grandparents & healthy siblings may visit.
      • Children under the age of 16 other than siblings are not allowed to visit.

Please note that nursing staff may ask visitors that show signs or symptoms of cold or flu not visit in an effort to protect our patients and staff from such illness.

These restrictions may be altered based on community outbreak and recommendation by City County Health Department in collaboration with both hospitals.

Please remember the most important thing you can do to prevent any infection is to do good hand washing.

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, APIC Text of Infection Control & Epidemiology