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June 15, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory last week due to a seasonally unusual increase in the spread of a common respiratory virus.
According to the CDC, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the “most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under one year of age in the United States. Infants, young children and older adults with chronic medical conditions are at risk of severe disease from RSV infection.”
RSV infections “primarily spread via respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, and through direct contact with a contaminated surface.”
The CDC explained that cases of RSV remained “relatively low” from March 2020 to March 2021, as did other respiratory diseases, including the flu.
However, since late March, an increase in the spread of the virus has been identified in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee.
“Due to reduced circulation of RSV during the winter months of 2020-2021, older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they have likely not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months,” the CDC warns.
Similar to RSV, increases are also expected in norovirus, viral gastroenteritis and the flu — all illnesses that were suppressed during quarantining for COVID.
What this Means for Employers
Employers should take the following actions to keep their workforces healthy and productive.
- Encourage employees to stay home if they are ill, even if they are fully vaccinated
- Continue to encourage thorough hand washing and social distancing
- Continue to wipe down surfaces with disinfectant spray in shared spaces and personal workspaces
- Continue to encourage employees to keep their hands away from their face