DougCo’s RSV, COVID rates fall in December after November rise

Heather Willard

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Dec. 8, 2022

(Douglas County, Colo.) RSV rates doubled in Douglas County during November but appear to be dropping throughout the metro region through the first weeks of December, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

DougCo’s November RSV rates, published by the Douglas County Health Department, show 119 children were hospitalized with RSV at the start of November, up from 73 hospitalizations in October. Influenza hospitalizations also rose from six to 25.

CDPHE data shows the overall rate in the five-county metro area (Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties) dropped the last week of November — on Dec. 3, the metro region had 146 pediatric hospitalizations resulting from RSV.

Kevin Carney, M.D., associate chief medical officer of Children’s Hospital Colorado, said his team has watched the falling rates and believes the peak has passed.

“We’ve seen this trend over the last 2-3 weeks, and it is something that while we’re definitely past the peak of RSV, we still have very high volumes of patients in our emergency rooms and in our hospital, but it is not at the same level it was a few weeks ago,” Carney said. “We’re very encouraged by that and very happy knowing the RSV peak is past.”

He cautioned anyone planning group meetings around the holiday to ensure they are not spreading viruses by staying home if presenting any symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, wheezing) or wearing masks in crowded areas. He also noted influenza rates are rising locally and nationally, and it’s never too late to get a flu or COVID vaccine.

“We are seeing a lot more children with flu, and other viruses that are pretty easily spread during this time — COVID included,” Carney said. “Though RSV is better, this is definitely not the time for people to relax on all the things we’ve kind of learned over the past few years that help prevent infection.”

Still, there are 79% more RSV-related hospitalizations than at the peak last year.

Additionally, the 1,700 RSV-associated hospitalizations in the Denver metro area since Oct. 1 amounts to more RSV hospitalizations reported in the first two months of this season compared with last season.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, causes cold-like symptoms that the majority of people recover from in a week or two, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The virus is serious for infants and older adults as it can lead to bronchiolitis and/or pneumonia. Current patients hospitalized with RSV face potentially contracting two other respiratory viruses — COVID-19 and influenza.

Carney said that while RSV and influenza are both well-known to the medical community, they can cause serious health issues similar to those caused by COVID, such as pulmonary issues and struggles breathing.

“Though we are used to taking care of them, it still doesn’t minimize how serious these infections can be for certain people in our population, as well as young kids, which are often a little more impacted by some of these viruses, particularly RSV,” Carney said. “(T)hey can get a lot sicker than somebody else in the community who might just get symptoms of fever, cough and then get better in a few days — these do unfortunately lead to many, many people requiring to seek care and admission to intensive care units.”

COVID cases are also still present in Douglas County, with the largest proportion of cases reported by individuals over 60 years old. Older adults accounted for 537 of the total 874 COVID cases reported in 2022. The Douglas County Health Department’s COVID-19 data dashboard reported 430 cases in the past 30 days, with 10 resulting in hospitalizations.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, RSV-associated hospitalizations in five Denver metro counties dropped from 244 pediatric cases and 54 adults to 146 pediatric cases and 54 adult cases as of Dec. 3.

This is the lowest rate of pediatric hospitalization for RSV since the last week of October, where 132 pediatric cases were reported in addition to five adult cases.

This week the state health department also recorded an influenza hospitalization rate of 5.291 per 100,000 individuals, compared to 0.41 in 2021. COVID case rates have dropped statewide to 4.553 per 100,000 residents from 19.13 in 2021.

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Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

Broomfield, CO

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