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Spike in cases of respiratory virus sparks warning from Alberta Heath Services

Could your runny or stuffy nose be a sign you have Respiratory Syncytial Virus?.
Could your runny or stuffy nose be a sign you have Respiratory Syncytial Virus?. File photo

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is warning Albertans to be cautious amid an increase in the number of cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) throughout the province.

As of Jan. 17, AHS said there have already been 14 outbreaks of RSV recorded in Alberta, compared to nine outbreaks throughout the entire 2015-16 season.

“Though not unusual for us to see this illness each season, the volume is higher,” senior medical officer of health Dr. Gerry Predy said. “Which means heightened risk, particularly for infants.”

According to AHS, symptoms of RSV are usually the same as a bad cold, including a cough: stuffy or runny nose, mild sore throat, earache and fever.

“However, in some people — especially infants and young children — RSV may lead to more severe respiratory complications requiring hospital care, such as bronchiolitis (an infection of the small airways) and pneumonia,” a Thursday news release said.

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Because RSV is not preventable by vaccine, AHS is urging Albertans to “refrain from visiting infants, children and vulnerable individuals” when sick. 

Confirmed RSV outbreaks, by zone and season:

South ZoneCalgary ZoneCentral ZoneEdmonton ZoneNorth ZoneAB Total
2015/16 Season322119
2016/17 Season (As of Jan. 17/17) 3242314