If you or someone you know feels sick, the message from doctors is to stay home for Thanksgiving. RSV is very common, but doctors say the risk this year is high, especially for seniors and children.
Symptoms of RSV include a runny nose, scratchy throat, coughing, difficulty breathing, and a fever.
Dr. Scott Robertson with Pacific Central Coast Health Centers says with more families already feeling under the weather, even more could be at risk after exposure to loved ones.
“If you're having a runny nose, sore throat, it doesn't mean that you have to go to the hospital or have to get tested, but it is best to maybe sit home and have some folks bring you some food, and you can watch football in the quiet environment of your own house at home," he said.
RSV, COVID-19, the flu and other common viruses share some common symptoms, but doctors say RSV can include severe symptoms that can last longer, like coughing or difficulty breathing.
“The ones who are really at highest risk are really small kids under five and the elderly. You know, those both ends of the spectrum get the most severe symptoms from RSV,” said Dr. Henning Ansorg, Public Health Officer for Santa Barbara County.
Most people with RSV will not seek medical help, meaning the case rate is likely even higher since county health departments cannot easily track it.
New mom Kylie Wiesman says that RSV is in the back of her mind.
“Honestly, just trying not to travel as much as possible," she said. "He had his one-year checkup, nine-month checkup fairly recently, so that is kind of perfect timing but we’re just kind of staying home, not too many crazy plans.”
Sarah Perry, who lives in Pismo Beach, told KSBY, “If anybody is immune-compromised, they wear a mask and we try just to keep our little one not too close.”
Dr. Ansorg says one of the best ways to protect your loved ones is to practice commonsense hygiene measures including coughing or sneezing into your elbow, washing your hands frequently, and wearing masks.
“If they're no longer symptomatic, if they at least have had no fever for 48 hours without taking fever-reducing medications, then they're fine,” Dr. Ansorg said.
According to the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health, they are seeing an increase in RSV earlier in the year and more severe than usual and say hospitals are seeing the results.
At Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, pediatric doctors say most of their RSV patients are children. Typically around this time of year, they see one RSV patient. Now, they're averaging eight patients a day.
“The vast majority of cases are going to be self-limiting, meaning they're going to get better on their own,” Dr. Robertson said.