LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — November brought more than 1,800 cases of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) to Southern Nevada — a 200% increase over the same time last year, according to the health district.

A Friday news release from the Southern Nevada Health District warns the community about the possible impacts of seasonal respiratory illnesses — both for people who get sick, and for the health care system in general. Pediatric hospital rooms have filled up during the surge of RSV cases, and hospitals have had to move some older children to adult hospital beds. Pressure on neonatal intensive care units has also increased, with occupancy at 100%, according to the Nevada Hospital Association. Only about 600 RSV cases were reported in November 2021 as people continued to follow COVID-19 protocols that helped reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses overall.

Individuals with higher risk of complications should be cautious as RSV, flu and COVID-19 cases increase during winter months.

RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, SNHD said. It’s a common respiratory virus that primarily spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. But risks can be greater in infants less than 6 months old, children under the age of 2, and older adults with underlying health conditions like asthma or congestive heart failure, SNHD said. About all you can do is try to reduce symptoms — there is no vaccine.

Flu has also been in the news. The first deaths of the season were reported last week — one woman in her 40s and one in her 60s. SNHD reports 67 flu hospitalizations for the week of Nov. 13-19 — a 72% increase over the previous week. Statewide, 140 hospitalizations have been reported so far. There are flu vaccines available, and SNHD urges residents to get vaccinated. The vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

And COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. New variants have been circulating over the past two months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has elevated the community level in Clark County and neighboring Southern Nevada counties to “medium” as pressure on hospitals has begun to increase.

“The best way to protect yourself and others this season is to take proactive steps to stay healthy,” said Dr. Fermin Leguen, SNHD Health Officer. “There is no vaccine for RSV, but vaccines for seasonal flu and COVID-19 are readily available, and there are additional measures everyone can take to stay safer and healthier this winter.”

SNHD recommends that all people, but especially those who are more at risk for severe illness or live with someone who is, take extra precautions at this time:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and running water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue away after using it.
  • Consider wearing a well-fitting, good-quality mask when indoors or in crowded spaces
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces.
  • Stay home when sick and limit contact with others.
  • Take a COVID-19 test. People who develop flu-like symptoms should take a COVID-19 test, especially if they have underlying conditions that put them more at risk for severe illness or hospitalization from flu or COVID.