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Respiratory infections are on the rise in Utah

Posted at 1:07 PM, Jan 08, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY – A virus that causes cold-like symptoms is on the rise in Utah, Intermountain Healthcare says.

The respiratory syncytial virus, and similar viruses, are at moderate to high levels across the state.

Dr. Per Gesteland says the RSV is a common virus that causes mild cold symptoms.

Dr. Gesteland is a professor of Pediatrics and Adjunct Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics with the University of Utah Health and Primary Children’s Hospital.

“Some people can have the infection and have no symptoms at all. Most healthy individuals recover in about a week,” Dr. Gesteland says.

Despite how common this respiratory virus may be, it still poses a risk to certain groups.

“Infants and children are especially at risk. Infants under one year of age, particularly those with a history of prematurity, are among those of highest concern. Even older adults who have a condition affecting their lungs, heart or immune system can also be more severely affected.”

The infection or its complications can be serious, Dr. Gesteland says.

The risks of the virus include causing bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

Children who develop breathing problems should see a healthcare provider immediately.

The breathing problems to look out for are “fast breathing or breathing that uses muscles above or below the rib cage.”

Increasing fluids and keeping the nasal passages clean will help.

Dr. Gesteland recommends age-appropriate pain reliever, but not aspirin for respiratory viruses. Aspirin has been linked to rapidly progressive brain diseases like Reye Syndrome.

Instead, he recommends acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

People who may be at risk should avoid going to places where there are a lot of people, Gesteland says.