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RSV Concerns Grow Among Seniors as Cases Surge

RSV Concerns Grow Among Seniors as Cases Surge

United States: As the United States has been reporting an upsurge in cases linked to respiratory illnesses, public health experts have raised concerns regarding the risks for seniors and physically unfit communities associated with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

The alarm has been sounded by the Philippine Statistics Authority – where the population of seniors is at nine million. A team of experts have outlined that the seniors who are dealing with some kind of comorbidities are at the highest risk of getting contracted to the severe Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). The major reason cited behind the same is their weakened immune systems.

How do experts address the issue?

According to the reports by malaya.com.ph, an Infectious Disease Expert and President of the Philippine College of Physicians – Dr Rontgene Solante, outlined that RSV is a respiratory illness which spreads via a lesser-known virus. The most common mode of transmission for the infection is via respiratory secretions and the common symptoms experienced by the person dealing with the infection are cough, wheezing, congestion as well as fever.

Dr Solante was quoted saying, “Identifying RSV from other respiratory diseases is difficult because of its non-specific symptoms similar to other illnesses. Diagnosis requires testing that is often expensive and not widely accessible. Seniors and individuals with comorbidities may mistake their symptoms for a common cold or flu, not realizing they could be suffering from RSV, which can result in severe long-term damage or even fatal complications. More concerning is that there is no specific treatment for RSV in adults.”

Furthermore, the health expert mentioned that the individual can get infected from RSV during any time of the year. However, the infection spreads swiftly during the rainy months, i.e., between September and February, and the RSV peak season is witnessed during the cold months, i.e., between October and December.

While addressing the increasing RSV concern among seniors, Dr Solante mentioned, “Our seniors are particularly susceptible and vulnerable because, in Philippine culture, they often live with family members who also serve as their caregivers. These family members may unknowingly contract RSV at work or elsewhere and bring it home to their senior relatives. Within the household, symptoms might be dismissed as just the flu, not realizing that what’s circulating is RSV, which can be fatal for seniors,” as per malaya.com.ph.

Along with this, the president of the Philippine College of Geriatric Medicine – Dr Lourdes Dumlao, mentioned that RSV is a greater burden for seniors. She explained, “Studies have shown that the incidence of hospitalizations and mortality due to RSV is substantially higher in seniors than in children. Seniors with certain underlying conditions such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure (CHF), asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at higher risk of hospitalization when infected with RSV. Additionally, RSV can cause various severe respiratory complications in older adults, including arrest and failure, respiratory distress, and emphysema. Further, about 30% of older adults may develop heart complications when hospitalized with RSV.”

The two experts were joined by the head of Pulmonary Services at Asian Hospital and Medical Center – Dr Lenora C Fernandez, who mentioned that senior citizens acquire more aftercare after getting discharged from the hospital. The health expert was quoted saying, “One out of four RSV patients (24.5%) may require professional home care after hospital discharge.17 Additionally, up to one out of four (26.6%) of these patients are readmitted within three months post-discharge, and even more concerning, three out of ten (33%) may die from complications related to RSV within a year of their initial admission,” as reported by malaya.com.ph.

Along with this, Dr Fernandez has appealed the general public to act against the flu-like symptoms as soon as possible. She was quoted saying, “I recommend that families implement safety and hygiene protocols promptly to protect their seniors, such as isolating symptomatic individuals, wearing face masks, and engaging in frequent handwashing.”

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