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HHS issues notices on RSV, dengue fever

Officials say RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis in children younger than one year old. (Image via National Institutes of Health)

The Seminole Tribe’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Department issued two warnings via email to tribal members and tribal employees.

The first warning concerned respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV. HHS said the virus is usually contracted during the winter months – which begin Dec. 21 and end March 20.

RSV can cause mild cold symptoms, wheezing (bronchiolitis) and pneumonia. HHS said it is the most common cause of bronchiolitis in children under one year old.

“Most children get RSV by the time they are two years old,” the HHS notice said. “It tends to last one to two weeks, but can persists for up to four weeks in some cases.”

HHS said RSV is contracted in much the same way as other viruses – through respiratory droplets from a contaminated person or from infected surfaces. Symptoms include runny nose, cough, decreased appetite, irritability, and sometimes a fever.

While there is no treatment for adults with RSV, there is medication available for premature infants and high-risk children. Prevention includes washing hands, keeping hands off of the face, avoiding contact with sick people, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing, cleaning and disinfecting common surfaces, and staying home when sick.

Dengue fever

The second warning concerned dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever (a more severe form of dengue infection). HHS said both are known diseases carried by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination or specific medication for treatment.

The most common symptoms are a fever plus any of the following: nausea or vomiting, rash and aches and pains in the eyes, behind the eyes, in muscles, joints or bones.

During mosquito season, each of the tribe’s reservations are sprayed weekly with substances that control populations and mosquito-borne Illnesses. HHS said there are other preventative measures, including avoiding outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active (normally at dusk and dawn); dressing in clothing that covers the skin (long pants and sleeves); and using insect repellent products that contain the chemical DEET (no more that 35% for adults and less that 10% for children two months and older). HHS said infants should be kept indoors or mosquito netting should be used to cover strollers.

Prevention measures also include the removal of any standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs, and making sure screens on windows and doors are tightly fitted.

For more information, call the HHS hotline at (833) 786-3458.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at