Advice For RSV And Other Winter Respiratory Illnesses

16th Jul 2021


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the contagious illness which affects young children, is affecting whānau all over New Zealand, but simple hygiene such as keeping children at home and washing hands can help stop the virus from spreading.

Dr Ian Murphy, WDHB’s Chief Medical Officer, says adults with RSV have symptoms similar to the common cold and will mostly be able to recover at home, but babies and very young children can become very unwell quickly. Older adults or people with compromised immune systems, or those with heart or lung conditions may also be more at risk from RSV.

RSV is not a new virus and is common during the winter.

“If your child has symptoms of RSV – a runny nose, cough, vomiting or fever - we encourage you to ring Healthline on 0800 611 116 or talk to your GP in the first instance. However, if their symptoms are getting worse, or they stop eating or drinking, or find it hard to breathe, bring them to Whanganui Hospital’s emergency department,” says Dr Murphy.


The emergency department is being supported by the DHB’s paediatricians during the RSV outbreak to ensure more timely attention is given to young children presenting to the emergency department and Whanganui Accident & Medical Clinic with respiratory related issues.

“In severe cases of RSV, or other respiratory illness, some children and older adults may be admitted to hospital, but in many cases children and whānau will be given information about how to cope with respiratory illness at home,” says Dr Murphy.

“We all know the rules about infection prevention since we’ve lived through the COVID-19 pandemic and these rules equally apply to any other contagious diseases, such as RSV. Wash your hands, cough and sneeze into your elbow, don’t share drinking glasses and stay at home if you are sick. Please keep your child away from day-care or school if they are sick.”

We ask that visitors are kept to a minimum in the children's ward and that healthy children do not visit the hospital due to the infectious nature of the illness. All people who are unwell with flu-like symptoms are asked not to visit the hospital other than for emergency care.