What to Know About Flu, RSV Risks in the Chippewa Valley
these viruses have symptoms similar to COVID-19 – and cases are rising
Flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity levels in Eau Claire County and Wisconsin have increased over the past few weeks, reaching levels higher than usual for this time of the year. The Eau Claire City-County Health Department encourages the community to take several steps while these respiratory viruses are circulating at high levels:
- Stay home when you feel sick.
- Get up to date on flu and COVID-19 vaccines, including a COVID-19 booster dose if you’re eligible.
- Get tested if you have symptoms.
- Wash your hands often.
“It’s especially important to take these steps before coming in close contact with people who are more likely to get seriously sick from the flu and RSV. That includes children younger than 1, people 65 and older, and people who are immunocompromised,” says Rachel Mukai, Communicable Disease Specialist with the health department.
COVID-19 also continues to circulate in our community. While Eau Claire County’s COVID-19 community level has remained at “low,” the amount of the virus being detected in local wastewater has recently increased.
Everyone who has symptoms of flu, RSV, or COVID-19 should stay home to stop the virus from spreading, especially if they attend or work in schools, childcare programs, long-term care facilities, hospitals, and other settings where they’re likely to come into close contact with people outside their household. Because flu, RSV, and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, it is very difficult to know which virus you have without testing. Talk to your doctor about getting tested for flu or RSV. COVID-19 tests are widely available.
Symptoms of flu, RSV, or COVID-19 can include:
- Cold-like symptoms, like a runny or stuffy nose and sore throat
- Low-grade fever or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches
- Decreased appetite
- Loss of taste and smell
Managing symptoms at home. For most people, these respiratory viruses (flu, RSV, and COVID-19) can be managed at home. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and people older than 4 months can use fever-reducing medication if needed.
When to seek medical care. If adults or children have any of the following symptoms, they should seek medical care right away:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or pressure
- Loss of speech or movement
- Temperature of 103 or higher