Triple Threat - RSV, Flu & COVID - On the Rise

posted by Colette Rossiter on Wednesday, November 23, 2022

It’s only November, but locally we’re already beginning to see the predicted “triple threat” of respiratory illnesses…RSV, Influenza (flu), and COVID-19.  Strep infections are also on the rise. The risk of co-infections is real. Someone can be infected with two viruses at the same time, making one very sick and increasing risk of hospitalization.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Cases locally are climbing rapidly. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.  There is no vaccine for this virus which is the leading cause of hospitalizations for babies.

INFLUENZA is right behind RSV with cases increasing daily!  This respiratory virus is making a comeback after two years of low incidence and experts are predicting severe flu season. Now is the time to get a flu shot, if you and your children have not yet been vaccinated. It’s the best defense against this virus that causes cough, fever, body aches, headache, and fatigueRE. 

COVID-19 continues to circulate throughout the community. Omicron variants continue to develop which make it difficult to stop all COVID infections. Vaccinations are readily available for everyone, 6 months of age and older.  The new bivalent (original virus plus 2 Omicron sub-variants) booster is recommended for everyone over the age of 5 who have completed their primary series of 2 shots.

Although not perfect, both the COVID-19 and flu shots reduce the risk of infection, which helps protect the vaccinated person and those around them. They also reduce the severity of infection, and the risk of hospitalization.

All three viruses have overlapping symptoms, which makes it hard to tell the difference among the infections without a test. Antibiotics will not work on viruses.  But there are a few antiviral medications available for Flu and COVID-19.

Most of the time symptoms for these respiratory illnesses can be managed at home:

  • Have your child rest and drink plenty of fluids
  • Give fever and pain reducing meds, if indicated (i.e. Tylenol, Motrin)
  • Be careful with over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. They are usually not recommended for kids under the age of 6. 
  • Keep your child home from school, daycare, and other public places until their fever is gone for 24 hours and they are feeling well.

But if your child begins to experience difficulty breathing, blueish colored skin, lips or nailbeds, dehydration or any other symptoms that are worrisome, call for medical care right away.

Prevention is always key:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Cover your coughs & sneezes.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.

About The Author

Colette Rossiter

Colette Rossiter, serves as manager for Spencer Hospital Community Health Services and Clay County Public Health. Colette has enjoyed the variety of responsibilities her nursing career has provided, yet has a passion for public health and safety.