RSV rates could increase as kids return to school

DES MOINES — Health professionals are encouraging Iowa parents to take extra precautions with their kids amid a severe respiratory virus season.

Wendy Woods, a medical officer at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, says RSV infection rates may bound again now that school is back in session, so she encourages anyone who’s sick to stay home to prevent spreading the illness to vulnerable children.

“They don’t have big enough airways to be able to support these illnesses,” Woods says, “and what to you or I is just a simple cold or upper respiratory infection, to them can be life-threatening.” Woods says it’s important for kids — and adults — to get the annual flu shot if they haven’t yet done so.

“They do decrease hospitalizations and decrease illness in kids,” Woods says, “and if you had an opportunity to do that, we should all take it.” The number of Iowa children hospitalized for RSV and the flu dropped off in the past month thanks to holiday school closures and severe weather having kept people inside.