As the regional epidemiologist for the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, Matt Bauer keeps careful track of circulating illnesses.
“Since October, we’ve seen more cases and more outbreaks of RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) in childcare and school settings,” Bauer said during a public presentation by the health department. “We haven’t seen this over the past couple of years.”
This graphic shows how this year’s spike in RSV cases is an anomaly. (Larimer County health department/Courtesy image)
Bauer pointed out that during the beginning of the COVID pandemic, incidences of influenza and RSV were actually lower because people were in lockdown or masking. Now, more children are showing up with these diseases.
Kevin Unger, President/CEO UCHealth Northern Colorado Region, said his company is monitoring these three viruses on a daily basis and track them to see how it is impacting the local population.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in RSV cases,” he emphasized. “If your child gets the virus, the key is to keep them at home and minimize the spread.”
A general increase in respiratory illnesses has been observed throughout Colorado. The Larimer County health department is actively monitoring 30 reports of outbreaks or increased respiratory activity in community settings.
COVID boosters and flu shots
Dr. Jared Olson is a population epidemiologist. He told the audience at this week’s presentation that more than half of older adults in Larimer County still need the new bivalent COVID booster shot.
“This will provide people with important increased immunity,” Olson noted.
Dr. Paul Mayer, MD, pointed out that it is safe for people to get the COVID booster and the flu shot at the same time.
“Co-infection with flu and COVID is possible,” Mayer stated. “If you get sick, call you doctor first for guidance. Urgent cares and emergency rooms are packed. You primary care physician may be able to help you over the phone.”
County Health Director Tom Gonzales, MPH, noted that Governor Jared Polis has extended the COVID disaster declaration to rapidly respond to and to support healthcare systems to include RSV and flu.
Alan Qualis, CEO of Banner Health Northern Colorado, said the company’s facilities are seeing 25% higher than normal volumes in their emergency departments.
“Most COVID patients appear in the ER and are then sent home with a plan of care,” Qualis said.