CASES of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are on the rise in Bathurst and a local general practitioner (GP) is encouraging locals to help prevent further spread.
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Dr Pav Phanindra said symptoms and transmission of RSV are similar to COVID-19, so similar health practices are recommended.
"The common symptoms are runny nose, cough, sneezing, which can mimic any other viral infection like COVID and it can last for three to four days as well, before they start to improve," he said.
"Kids can have wheezing and it can behave like asthma which we call bronchiolitis. It occasionally can cause a secondary infection called pneumonia."
"It's very similar in terms of the infectious rate of COVID. It's spread via droplets, like a sneeze or cough. Three to eight days people are infectious."
Dr Phanindra said there are "quite a few cases" of RSV in Bathurst at the moment, but thankfully influenza cases have been low.
"As is the case in NSW, there's a good number of cases and that's because every time someone terms up to the hospital, we tend to do a swap and find that they've RSV," he said.
"Influenza has thankfully been low, thanks to the vaccination. There's no immunization for RSV because it tends to change every year and it's very mild.
"RSV pretty much causes a lot of respiratory infection. Given our winter here, it usually peaks in late autumn or early winter in NSW.
"It affects both adults and children for a long period of time. The only reason we are picking it up more often these days because there's a swab being done when you get a COVID test."
To help prevent the spread of RSV and other viral infections, Dr Phanindra encouraged locals to follow common health protocols.
"If there's any symptoms, don't send them to daycare or go to work," he said.
"Stay home if you're not feeling well. Cover your nose or mouth when coughing or sneezing.
"Wear a mask wherever you can, avoid contact with high risk people especially very young people, older people or people who are immunocompromised.
"You personnel hygiene is very important. Stop sharing cups and utensils. They can easily spread to other members of the family."
Dr Phanindra said most children by the age of three are likely to have had RSV.
"Almost all children by the age of three have probably had RSV. It also gives them pretty decent immunity once they get infection," he said.
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