As COVID precautions loosen, common colds make a comeback in NJ


Colds and other common viruses are rebounding in New Jersey as people relax the precautions that helped limit the spread of COVID-19 — and incidentally kept a host of more garden-variety illnesses at bay.   

Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) dipped to record lows during the pandemic. Few missed the usual coughs and sniffles last winter. 

Their return — however unwelcome — is another sign of the return to normalcy. 

The state Health Department says the level of RSV and other respiratory viruses has been “higher than would typically be expected for this time of year.”

While the state health department can’t anticipate “the likely spread, peak, or duration of activity with any certainty,” it will continue to monitor the trend, said Dr. Ed LIfshitz, medical director of the division of communicable diseases. 

Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus (RSV) starts out looking like a common cold but it is the number one cause of bronchiolitis, a serious inflammation of the airways. Children under 2 years old are most at risk.

Increased testing to rule out COVID-19 has detected viruses that previously might have been shrugged off. Some, like RSV, have appeared outside their normal seasons.

 A few infants have been hospitalized with RSV in North Jersey. And more such illnesses are expected when students return to their classrooms and office workers to their workplaces in the fall.   

‘A different world now’

Health officials have doubled down on advice to stay home when sick and get tested for COVID-19. They urge people to get vaccinated for COVID, to minimize the chance that any respiratory symptoms would actually be COVID.

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