PPH’s Infection Preventionist, Eileen Bratton, often meets with residents and staff to answer questions about the risk of becoming infected with Covid, the seasonal flu, or RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).

Eileen Bratton, PPH’s Infection Preventionist

Eileen has broken down the three viruses, treatment protocols, type of symptoms, how long they last and when to call your doctor.

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

RSV is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract illness. Annually 60,000 to 120,000 older adults are hospitalized and 6.000 to 10,000 die from the RSV infection. Symptoms include:

  • runny nose
  • wet cough
  • sneezing
  • fever
  • wheezing

RSV virus can lead to pneumonia, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) exacerbation and CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) and is dangerous for young children and adults over 65; especially those with chronic lung disease and weakened immune symptoms. RSV typically lasts 2-8 days but can last longer. Treatment is rest, fluids, and pain-relieving medications.

Covid 19

Typically, symptoms start 2-14 days after exposure, with day five being when symptoms get serious. Symptoms include:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • new loss of taste/smell
  • runny nose

An individual that is Covid positive can be infectious for 10 days. At first, symptoms are vague and then seem to get worse and that is when a person will get tested and discover they are positive. Treatment is isolation, rest, fluids, pain relieving medications and antiviral medications.


Influenza, AKA “the flu,” is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. The Flu spreads easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms appear suddenly and include:

  • high fever
  • headache
  • dry cough
  • chills
  • sore throat
  • fatigue

An individual is contagious from one day before symptoms to up to five days after they are symptomatic. Treatment is rest, fluids, and antiviral medication.

Vaccines are available for all three viruses.

Be aware of all three of these viruses and if you think you may be ill with any of these, please isolate yourself and check in with your Primary Care Physician (PCP).

Remember, using masks in crowded areas and good hand hygiene can help you to avoid all three of these viruses!

We hope you stay safe and healthy this fall!