(COLORADO) — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is monitoring an increase in hospitalizations and outbreaks of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and providing tips to reduce the spread of the virus.

According to CDPHE, RSV is a common respiratory virus that spreads by contact with virus-containing droplets produced by a person with RSV infection. While most people who get RSV will only have cold symptoms, it may be more severe in infants and young children as well as older adults.

“The increase in RSV-related hospitalizations in Colorado in recent weeks is very concerning. Fortunately, there are steps we can take individually through frequently washing your hands, disinfecting hard surfaces, and staying home when sick,” stated Dr. Eric France, Pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer for CDPHE.

CDPHE is seeing an increase in reported RSV outbreaks in childcare and school settings. There were 42 confirmed outbreaks since Oct. 1, more than double from the same timeframe in 2021. More than half of those outbreaks have had at least one person involved in the outbreak seek care at a hospital. CDPHE says that 95% of hospitalizations are among children.

“Children with RSV can develop wheezing, poor feeding and dehydration, which can lead to hospitalization. Connecting with your primary care or pediatric provider if your child is not getting better may help to keep your child out of the hospital,” said France.

Coloradans can help reduce the spread of RSV in several ways:

  • Stay home when you are sick, including not visiting or interacting with people who may be at higher risk, including older adults, young children, and infants.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Encourage children to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue or upper arm sleeve when they cough or sneeze, throw away the tissue after they use it, and clean their hands as instructed above.
  • Clean potentially contaminated surfaces, like doorknobs, tables, handrails, etc. 
  • Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils and touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • If your child is demonstrating early signs of respiratory distress, consider taking them to their primary care doctor for evaluation.