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RSV, flu cases increasing across Montana

Meaghan Lafferty, a pediatric hospitalist at St. Peter’s Health
Posted at 11:31 AM, Dec 15, 2022

HELENA - Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections have been rising across Montana in recent weeks.

While the virus often mimics the common cold, some people are more impacted than others.

St. Peter’s Health in Helena has seen a steady, and somewhat overwhelming, stream of severe cases of RSV recently.

“We've been very, very full and very, very busy on the children's unit here at St. Peter’s,” said Meaghan Lafferty, a pediatric hospitalist at St. Peter’s Health.

RSV usually only causes mild flu-like symptoms in adults, but it can be particularly harmful to children, especially those under the age of one.

Lafferty says a big sign to look out for is when breathing becomes labored.

Katie Gallagher, a former employee of St. Peter’s Health, has a seven-month-old child who recently spent four days in the hospital due to RSV.

“No parent wants to be in that position and then see their child go through that. Really a tough four days but glad that we were able to get home safe,” says Gallagher.

Thankfully, her child has recovered and has been released from the hospital.

Certain measures such as handwashing and wiping down surfaces can help keep you protected against RSV.

And with RSV, the flu, and COVID-19 affecting the country, getting vaccinated against other illnesses can help keep you and your family safe and reduce the burden on local healthcare providers.

“We're also seeing a lot of influenza coming around right now, so ideally you wouldn't want to be getting those two back-to-back. So if you can, get a flu shot, and anybody six months of age or older is eligible for a flu shot,” says Lafferty.