This winter we have heard quite a lot about surges in viruses impacting children, most especially respiratory viruses. Covid-19, Flu A, Flu B, Bronchitis, and the list goes on and on.
One such virus, the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV for short, is currently peaking according to medical researchers at the Centers for Disease Control.
Staying healthy and avoiding the virus that causes RSV is paramount for our schools and especially our youngest learners who are most at risk for this respiratory disease. One key way to avoid the spread of this virus is using best practices when it comes to cleaning schools and maintaining good personal hygiene.
Let’s take a closer look at what RSV is and how proper cleaning techniques at schools, preschools, and daycares can help prevent the further spread of this virus.
What Is RSV?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.”
While most of us can handle the virus as a minor inconvenience, the young at old alike have vulnerabilities that make them susceptible to getting seriously sick. Hospitalization and critical care treatments are necessary in many cases when a young child comes into contact with this virus. The same can be said for our vulnerable or immunocompromised senior population.
Symptoms of RSV
While most of us can handle the annoying symptoms of RSV which include a runny nose, a decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, and wheezing, some people can develop more severe infections such as bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.
These symptoms usually show up within 4 to 6 days after getting infected. You may initially believe you have caught a common cold until it develops further.
Treatments for RSV
Most adults and children that develop symptoms, (whether they are minor or more severe) usually can take steps at home to manage the symptoms. For the small portion of our society that finds themselves suffering from severe symptoms, a hospital stay may be in order for closer observation and treatments.
Treatments could consist of IV fluids, nebulizer treatments, additional oxygen, and in the most severe cases, intubation and ventilation to support breathing.
While there is no vaccine for RSV currently most doctors recommend managing the fever that may accompany the virus with over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Healthcare providers also recommend drinking lots of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Why So Severe An Outbreak This Year?
Scientists are speculating that a lowered exposure over the last several years due to social distancing could be the cause.
With many of us committed to staying socially distant and practicing good mask-wearing, we have a younger generation that was never exposed to the virus. Normally most 2-year-olds have had at least one bout of RSV and have successfully fought off the virus.
Understanding the Spread of RSV
As cleaning professionals, it is critical that we understand how viruses and bacteria can spread, especially in a school setting where diseases can spread like wildfire.
According to the CDC, RSV can spread through direct contact with someone who has the virus as well as by touching a surface that has the virus still active on it.
The most common method for being exposed to RSV is through the spread of droplets that contain the virus. This could happen when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. If sick children are in a classroom, daycare, or nursery together with the disease, this highly contagious virus could easily be passed on.
Additionally, RSV can be spread through contact with something with the virus on it. In a school setting this could be pens, pencils, desks, counters, chairs, bathroom facilities, and cafeteria tables. In a daycare, toys that are put into the mouth and touched by many hands can be a major source of the spread.
What makes this even more of a problem is that the RSV virus can survive for many hours on hard surfaces and for 30 minutes on unwashed hands. That’s a long time for spread and exposure to occur especially in a very public setting like a school.
RSV Spread Prevention Techniques
There are many steps both educators and cleaning service professionals can take to help prevent the spread of RSV. Most importantly, if you have cold-like symptoms you should stay home from school until your symptoms ease.
If you do return to school be sure to
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow. Avoid using your hands that will spread the virus to other objects that you touch.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid sharing cups, water bottles, drinking fountains, or eating with the same utensils.
Disinfecting Educational Facilities
Since the health and safety of students and children are of the utmost importance, our cleaning crews know the goal is to clean as many touchpoints as possible, disinfecting areas that may still have the virus active.
Washing floors that are used for circle time, disinfecting desks, chairs, high-traffic areas, door handles, and of course bathrooms are critical in our mission as one of the largest and most trusted school cleaners in New England.
With the rise in RSV cases and many other respiratory illnesses this year, it is more important than ever to have a commercial cleaning crew that can give educators and families alike peace of mind that the facilities they work in and attend are being cleaned regularly with proven techniques and with disinfectants known to kill major viruses.
Talk to our educational cleaning professionals about the specialized cleaning we do for hundreds of schools all over New England and the northeast region. We pride ourselves on making education one of our top industries.