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The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) is restricting visitors in neonatal intensive care units at HSC to combat the spread of respiratory infections.

The Health Authority says that is due to a number of cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Despite the warmer than usual temperatures so far this winter season, the WRHA says cold and flu season is in full swing and can affect babies with severe respiratory infections like RSV.

“These types of respiratory infections can be very serious and may require hospitalization and even intensive care,” Dr. Aaron Chiu, RSV specialist and physicians with WRHA Child Health Program and HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital said in a release. “Babies younger than 12 months old are most vulnerable to contracting RSV bronchiolitis, which is an infection of the small airways in the lungs.”

RSV can occur any time of year but the WRHA says the fall and winter months are the most common. Since Sept. 1 this year, HSC Children’s has been nine cases of RSV, in addition to other common respiratory viruses.

The WRHA is asking visitors who are not well and children who are not up-to-date on their vaccinations or are under the age of five not to visit the neonatal intensive care units at this time.

Staying healthy and preventing the spread of RSV

In the release, Dr. Chiu says basic hygiene and common sense are the best ways to prevent these infections.

“Keep babies away from crowded public areas like shopping malls and schools where there may be people with colds or other illnesses,” he said. “Most importantly, wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands! Frequent hand washing, especially after touching your face, your child’s face, another person who is ill, or sharing items with someone who is sick, is the best way to prevent spreading germs.”

Call your doctor if your child:

  • has hard time breathing,

  • has a frequent choking cough,

  • is breathing fast,

  • wheezing with breathing (whistle sound),

  • acts sick, is very tired and not playful,

  • is not feeding well and has fewer than three wet diapers in a day,

  • looks off-colour.

Tips to stay healthy and prevent the spread of RSV and other respiratory infections:

  • Wash your hands frequently;

  • Keep your hands away from your face;

  • Cough and sneeze into your arm or a tissue, not your hand;

  • If you get sick, stay home; and

  • Get a flu shot.

If you have any questions about RSV or about these visitor restrictions, you should consult your doctor, public health nurse or Nursing Station, or call Health Links – Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or Toll-free at 1-888-315-9257.