South escapes expected surge in respiratory cases

Dr Nigel Millar. Photo: ODT files
Dr Nigel Millar. Photo: ODT files
The anticipated surge in respiratory disease in the South seems not to have materialised.

Southern hospitals were on high alert last month as North Island hospitals experienced a spike in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other winter ailments, which crammed wards to bursting point.

Southern cases of those diseases usually start to fill wards in late July and early August, but yesterday Southern District Health Board chief medical officer Nigel Millar said the situation appeared to have eased.

"Smaller numbers of children are being hospitalised with RSV and other respiratory illnesses than in July. However, numbers do fluctuate from day to day."

Wards were very busy in June and July and for several weeks the children's ward at Southland Hospital was at capacity,

"At both Dunedin and Southland Hospitals, the majority of RSV patients have been children, with only a small number of adults," Dr Millar said.

Case numbers started to drop late last week, although Lakes District Hospital also reported a small number of patients with respiratory illnesses, he said.

"Today (Thursday), we have five RSV patients in Southland Hospital's children's ward and seven in Dunedin Hospital's children's unit.

"Southland Hospital also has two adult patients and Dunedin has no new adult admissions with RSV."

The SDHB has urged parents and caregivers with sick children who have a cold or cough to keep them home from school, pre-school or daycare, and to seek medical attention if they get worse.

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