Santa Clara Co. doctors see increase in RSV wastewater numbers ahead of Thanksgiving

Dustin Dorsey Image
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Santa Clara Co. doctors see increase of RSV in wastewater
Ahead of Thanksgiving, Santa Clara County doctors are urging caution because RSV is on the rise with wastewater monitoring data backing it up.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Ahead of holiday gatherings and Thanksgiving meals, Santa Clara County doctors are urging caution because RSV is on the rise in the county.

Santa Clara County health leaders say an already busy flu and COVID season is getting even busier with a rise in Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

"What we saw last year and so far what we're seeing this year is a peak first in RSV, then a peak in flu and then a peak in COVID," Santa Clara County Public Health communicable disease controller and asst. health officer Dr. Monika Roy said. "So, we're going to be monitoring. That's part of what we do here at the public health department. But so far, it does look like RSV is probably going to peak first."

Wastewater monitoring data backs that up.

Santa Clara County is the leader in community detection for a number of illnesses and diseases, including RSV.

MORE: Thanksgiving travelers prepare for 'new COVID threat.' It's called HV.1

In the last month, the wastewater has shown double the amount of RSV in San Jose.

In the Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Gilroy sewersheds, it has doubled in the last week.

"RSV affects everybody and every age in our community," Dr. Roy said. "And we know that the more RSV there is in the community, it then is going to spread to and put those young infants at risk."

Babies younger than one and people older than 60 are most vulnerable to serious complications from the virus and a new RSV specific vaccine aims to help them.

It's found to reduce an infant's risk of hospitalization from RSV by 57%.

MORE: Doctor shares how to prevent and treat viruses this 'sick season'

Dr. Roy says despite a shortage of infant vaccines, there is a recommendation for expected mothers to protect their children without waiting to get them vaccinated after birth.

"The idea is that weeks 32 to 36 the mother gets vaccinated, she develops antibodies, those get passed on to her infant and so that baby is now protected during this fall/winter RSV season," Dr. Roy said.

In addition to the RSV vaccine, Dr. Roy says an increase in emergency visits for influenza-like illnesses means it's important for everyone to get updated COVID and flu shots as well.

Of course, she always says to don't forget proper cold and flu season practices.

"To stay safe during this Thanksgiving holiday, wash your hands, cough in your elbow, mask up if you're going to be around a lot of people indoors and stay home if you're sick," Dr. Roy said.

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