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Health officials urge precautions as pediatric hospitalizations increase 

stock image grandpa holding babyRespiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, COVID-19 all contribute to strain on local hospitals

– San Luis Obispo County is experiencing an increase in pediatric illnesses and hospitalizations due to respiratory viruses, particularly respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Health officials urge community members, particularly older adults and parents of young children, to take precautions as RSV and other respiratory viruses begin to circulate at higher levels locally.

“While RSV circulates every year, we are seeing an impact that is earlier and more severe than usual and our hospitals are beginning to feel the strain,” said County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein.

“Older adults and people who spend time with young children should take precautions: wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, and consider masking in crowded places. No matter your age, stay home if you’re sick, even if you test negative for COVID-19. And please, take advantage of the vaccines we have to protect against flu and COVID-19: this reduces your own risk and also helps lift some weight from our local nurses, doctors, and EMS teams as they care for an influx of patients.”

RSV is a common virus that often causes fever and cold-like symptoms, with most people recovering on their own in a week or two. However, RSV can cause serious illness, especially for infants, children under age 5, and adults age 65 and older. In addition to RSV, SLO County is seeing higher levels of influenza than usual for this time of year and continues to see serious cases of COVID-19.

To help protect yourself and the community from RSV and other respiratory viruses:

• Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Avoid touching your face.
• Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and phones.
• Wear a mask (N95 or KN95) for added protection in crowds, especially indoors. If you have any symptoms and need to be around others, wear a mask to avoid spreading the virus.
• Stay home from work, school, or childcare if you are sick, even if you test negative for COVID-19.
• Stay up-to-date on flu and COVID-19 vaccines to prevent complications of co-infection.

If you or a loved one becomes sick with respiratory virus symptoms, you can usually recover at home by resting and drinking plenty of fluids. You can take over-the-counter medications (like Tylenol or Ibuprofen) as directed on the bottle to provide relief from fever and pain. It is also a good idea to test for COVID-19 so you can begin treatment if indicated.

If your symptoms are manageable but begin to worsen, or if you are concerned, it is best to call your
pediatrician or regular healthcare provider rather than going to the emergency room. It is also important to watch out for emergency warning signs, especially if you are caring for an infant, young child, or older adult. Anyone who has trouble breathing, is unable to drink enough fluids, experiences new confusion, has trouble waking up or staying awake, or experiences other emergency warning signs should seek medical care right away, including going to the emergency room or calling 911 if needed.

For more information on RSV, visit

Public health phone support is available at (805) 781-5500 Monday – Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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