Two-Minute Tuesday | ‘Tripledemic’ in the US?

Flu, RSV, and COVID-19: Is the US facing a triple pandemic?

Globally, during the pandemic, many steps have been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, while everybody has been focused on COVID, other formerly common diseases have gone overlooked. 

As summer ended and the United States headed into fall and winter, doctors were worried Americans would see a “twindemic” – a situation in which both flu and COVID-19 spread at the same time.

But experts now fear that we may be facing the threat of a “tripledemic” as doctors see an early rise in other pediatric respiratory viruses, particularly respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, respiratory illnesses are appearing much earlier, and in more people, than in recent years.

There have also been early increases in flu activity across most of the U.S. with indications that this season could be much more severe than the previous two seasons.

As of November 1st, pediatric bed occupancy in the U.S. is the highest it’s been in two years with 75% of the estimated 40,000 beds filled with patients, according to an ABC News analysis.

COVID-19 infections have not begun to spike yet, but CDC data shows in prior years, the virus has started to pick up around Thanksgiving season.

Experts explain that the combination of waning immunity to COVID and lack of exposure to other viruses, combined with close gatherings indoors, is fueling a “perfect storm.”

Resurgence of respiratory viruses

Over the last two years, there were more restrictions such as masking, social distancing, capacity limits and school closures. This meant fewer Americans were exposed to other viruses as well, including the flu and RSV.

Since many cities and states lack mitigation measures, these viruses are on the rise again.

According to the CDC, flu test positivity rates have increased from 1.27% for the week ending Sept. 24 to 4.38% for the week ending Oct. 15, higher than usual for this time of year.

Importance of vaccination

It is vital for adults and children to get vaccinated to prevent severe complications. Children can be hospitalized from any of these infections and those with underlying conditions are at the highest risk.

If you and your loved ones have yet to receive the influenza vaccine, it is highly recommended by medical professionals and experts that you do so, as soon as possible. The same urge applies to receiving the COVID boosters/vaccines.

How can you help yourself and your community minimize the impact of a tripledemic? 

  • It is in good practice that you remember to wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and face – with unwashed hands.
  • Wipe down surfaces before and after coming into contact.
  • Have hand sanitizer on you, to use in between washing your hands.
  • Wear a mask when you’re in larger crowds or close contact with others. 

Get tested and minimize the impact of infection

Get Tested! Recent U.S. increases in infections suggests that COVID is not the only thing you should be cautious about this season. COVID surges and antibiotic-resistant Superbug infections are expected to continue developing rapidly across the United States during the fall/winter months.

Testing for COVID-19, RSV, and the Flu, is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.  Taking these preventive measures will keep yourself and others from spreading the flu and viruses. Let’s help minimize the impact and spread by getting tested
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