Medical staff in Kenora say cases of the respiratory syncytial virus are continuing to be reported in the community, and those who are most vulnerable are warned of the symptoms.

The Northwestern Health Unit says the illness, known as RSV, is one of many seasonal common cold viruses, which can range from mild to severe. It can have a higher severity in premature infants, those with heart and lung disease, older adults and those with weakened immune systems.

The Mayo Clinic says most people recover in a week or two, but symptoms of RSV typically include:

- Runny nose,
- Decrease in appetite,
- Coughing,
- Sneezing,
- Fever,
- Irritability,
- Wheezing.

In a prepared release, leadership with the Lake of the Woods District Hospital says this year, staff are noticing a larger age group affected by RSV in the Kenora area, and have had positive results reported when patients are tested for COVID-19.

Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, explains the increase in case counts, which are not normally reported to public health, is due to additional people being tested for COVID-19 who would not be normally tested for a cold-like illness.

“Because of all of the COVID-19 testing that’s occurred, some of the lab results have indicated that RSV is likely circulating in the community. But we do see RSV every year annually, usually in the winter and the spring. It’s part of cold season,” explained Young Hoon, in an interview with Q104 and KenoraOnline late last week.

The Lake of the Woods District Hospital says you should attend the Emergency Room with your child if:

- Your child is breathing very fast,
- Your child is having trouble breathing. Look for retractions of the chest or neck and flaring of the nostrils. These signs are more serious if your child is also wheezing.
- Your child’s skin looks blue or paler than usual.
- Your child is much more lethargic, or sleepier than usual, and does not want to play.
- Your child is very cranky or fussy and cannot be comforted.
- Your young baby is not able to feed or drink.
- Your child is not feeding or drinking enough and becomes dehydrated. Your child may be dehydrated if their eyes appear to be dry or sunken or if they are urinating less than usual.

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic,” adds Young Hoon. “We do still encourage people that if you have symptoms that could be a respiratory illness and you fail the online screening tool for COVID-19, you should go get tested and self-isolate.”

As well, staff note that not everyone who has symptoms needs to get tested for RSV, as a positive test in most cases does not change the treatment. Treatment includes over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers and drinking enough fluids.