Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Proper hand hygiene stops RSV spread

December 10, 2018

“RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. It is a respiratory illness that affects the lungs and the airway,” explains Melissa Gulizia, pulmonary program manager for Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. 

Melissa explains that coughing, runny noses, sneezing and just overall fatigue are symptoms of RSV and that it spreads in many ways. 

"Oftentimes it’s the person who’s coughing or sneezing and we pick up those droplets and are exposed to that virus," said Melissa.

RSV treatment may include rest, drinking plenty of fluids, Tylenol, vaporizer or cool mist. RSV can become more serious for infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

"RSV can sometimes turn into pneumonia which is an infection of the lungs. It can also cause brioncholotis, which is inflammation of the airways. Some of the symptoms of these can include difficulty with breathing. Sometimes children and adults can start nasal flaring when they’re breathing. Or the skin around their rib cage, ribs and neck starts sinking in when they’re breathing. Those are signs the person is having trouble breathing," said Melissa. 

Proper hand hygiene is the best defense against RSV. 

“The best thing for preventing any respiratory illness including RSV is washing and cleaning your hands. Bacteria and viruses can be on any surfaces," said Lindsy Kroenke, RN Infection Control specialist.

LIndsy shows how to properly wash your hands and says warm water, the correct amount of soap on your hand based on what soap you’re using, rubbing and interlacing your hands together. She reminds people that thumbs, the backs of the hands and even wrists are vital to clean. And don't forget fingernails.

"Fingernails are a very dirty place for bacteria and the fingertips. So kind of just doing a rubbing on the palms and then rinsing," said Lyndsy. 

She says it's best to dry hands off with disposable paper towels and to use the paper towel to turn the faucet off. 

The times to wash hands are before you eat, after you go to the bathroom or any time your hands are visibly soiled. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for cleaning  your hands before contact with people, after contact, kind of those in-between times when you’re not washing your hands.   

"At Madonna our infection control is a little bit different than you’re going to see at an acute care hospital. That’s because all of our patients need to get out of their rooms, participate in therapies, learn how to get back into their communities so we really focus on the hand hygiene, the wiping of all the surfaces, keeping equipment clean and teaching our patients hand hygiene and cough etiquette so that they can still get out and participate in activities." said Lindsy.