Hospital sees 76 plus RSV cases in two weeks

Uptick is part of a ‘tri-demic’ with flu and COVID.

The Martha's Vineyard Hospital has seen an uptick in RSV cases among children. -MV Times

Updated 11/16

At a briefing on the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) Monday, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital leaders described the surge in cases as part of a “tri-demic” that also included influenza and COVID-19. 

Hospital president and CEO Denise Schepici said RSV was “most common in the winter months” but had come early and heavy this year. “In the past two weeks our hospital has diagnosed more that 76 cases of RSV — 85 percent of those cases have occurred in children under 12,” Schepici said. In the greater Boston area, she said, there has been an uptick in RSV and no indication it will abate. 

“It’s a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing,” Schepici said. “But in more severe cases you’ll see more severe symptoms including fever. Most people recover in a week or two but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. Babies and children who are most likely to develop the severe cases are those under age 5 or those with weakened immune systems or lung conditions — and babies who are born prematurely.”

Claire Seguin, chief nurse and chief operating officer, advised hand washing with soap or  sanitizer to avoid infection and to keep one’s hands away from one’s face, nose, and mouth. 

Seguin also recommended cleaning “high touch surfaces often” like counters and doorknobs. 

Seguin said RSV is spread by mouth and nose droplets. Infected people who cough, sneeze, or blow their nose nearby or handshakes or kissing can spread it. Also touching surfaces and objects touched by an infected person can lead to infection. RSV “can spread quickly through enclosed shared spaces,” she said. 

Consider wearing a mask “if you are uncertain of the environment you are in,” Schepici said. 

To keep from transmitting RSV, Seguin said stay home if you are sick and also to cover coughs and sneezes.

Seguin suggested people should visit the hospital’s emergency room if they or their children have trouble breathing or cannot drink enough fluids. However, she asked people not to come to the emergency room just for testing.

Seguin described RSV as “one of the most common respiratory viral illnesses there is” and the uptick appears to stem from children and other vulnerable people not building up their immune systems during the COVID-19 pandemic when folks were isolated. 

She also said older adults weren’t previously tested as much for RSV so increased testing in that population has revealed more infections. 

Seguin reminded Vineryarders to get their COVID-19 boosters and flu shots. 

Tisbury Health Agent Maura Valley told The Times she felt Seguin “did a good job of covering precautions that people should take to reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses.” Valley, who was a spokesperson for the Vineyard boards of health through the thick of the pandemic, pointed out those boards are still at work on prevention. 

“The boards of health continue to distribute free COVID test kits and recommend that individuals keep some test kits on hand for testing prior to holiday events,’ Valley wrote. “We also have a supply of n95 masks for anyone interested. The best way to prevent illness from COVID and flu is to get vaccinated and boostered if eligible. To help facilitate vaccinations we’re working with the CAP program to bring the COVID vax bus back to the Island in December. We’re also working with Island Health Care to schedule community flu vaccination clinics at the end of November. Once we’ve confirmed the dates and times for these clinics we’ll get the information out to the public. As Claire said, wash your hands and clean high touch surfaces frequently, wear a mask in crowded areas and stay home if you’re sick.”

Updated to include comments from Valley.


  1. When I saw the photos in this paper from the Barn Raisers Ball, I almost commented on what a good thing it is that islanders are immune from covid, the flu, and RSV. You have to be blissfully ignorant not to be aware of what RSV is doing to our most vulnerable this last month. But why argue with the “stay home if you’re scared” crew? Gathering in large groups without a mask is stupid and selfish… and apparently acceptable to most islanders. Again, it’s the most vulnerable who pay for it. Boosters, flu shots, and masks do help.

    • How untoward. Please stop name-calling such as, “stupid” and “selfish”. Let people be themselves without you judging them. Please stop using hate speech; it’s divisive. Our Island is a nice place, it’s made up of a variety of people, all of whom are wonderful, well-informed, and caring. There’s no need to spit out harsh words if you disagree with some locals.

      • Untoward, Columbo? You should see the comments you’ll never see, lol. Is your not-so-nice comment supposed to be an example of not judging? Are you and I not both part of the “variety”, “all of whom are wonderful, well-informed and caring”? How is your need to scold me any different from my need to call out stupidity and selfishness? Is it well-informed and considerate to jam into a crowded space indoors without masks? Not according to medical experts if you’re either at risk or likely to expose an at risk baby or elder. Lots of people don’t like my blunt style, but I don’t minimize or lie about medical information— or stick my head in the sand about it. I don’t accept stupidity and selfishness as okay, but I really do understand it’s acceptable all over, not just locally. It’s not hate speech to say something true.

        • ” How is your need to scold me any different from my need to call out stupidity and selfishness? ”

          It is not your job to call out what you deem to be stupidity and selfishness.
          Are you a virologist?
          An epidemiologist?
          Do you have any evidence that any cases of RSV were transmitted at the Barn Raisers Ball?
          Do you understand the concept “the uptick appears to stem from children and other vulnerable people not building up their immune systems during the COVID-19 pandemic when folks were isolated'”

          Make decisions for yourself and stop monitoring and hectoring others.

          • Yes, Katherine, I understand. Do you understand how responsible the antivaxer/anti-mask community is for helping the spread of diseases that could have been better managed? You yourself have posted false and misleading medical data RE covid vaccines (for Howes House staff), so I can understand your defensiveness and motivation to scold me here. I have a memory like an elephant. I’d rather hector those who get on here and spread false medical information/hide from medical realities than pretend that gathering unmasked in large indoor groups is a wise thing to do right now. Did you even read this article? It’s been updated, too.

            Now I’m done. I hope. Unless there’s another person who needs to scold ME for noticing how stupid and selfish people can be. This reminds me of the reaction I get from a foodie cult for noticing rip-off grocery prices. It’d be pretty funny—if all people didn’t need to eat or, you know, breathe without a preventable virus attacking their lungs—

            If only people would follow what the hospital is telling us in how to reduce risks.

        • Last comment on the matter. The accuracy of “harsh words” bothers some people who wish to minimize, ignore, or discount reality. Compare headlines on another subject in both our papers this week: one is about the homeless shelter, the other is about the winter shelter. Which is accurate, and which is pretense?

  2. Sounds like a cold or in worst case the Flu. But we give it a fancy name and create a drama out of it. It has been around since 1956 as a known virus and almost all children get it before the age of 2. Some very elderly get it who are immunocompromised but it is like influenza.

  3. In trying to find one iota of evidence validating Elizabeth Hanson’s conspiracy theory lies connecting RSV with the covid vax, she will be happy to hear that an RSV vax for infants is in the works, maybe by next year.

  4. When did so many people become so mean? It should be safe to voice an opinion without being crucified. Just saying.

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