Just as the world is finally moving forward after the COVID-19 pandemic, medical professionals warn against a “tripledemic” threat. There has been an extraordinary surge in the cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus(RSV), Coronavirus, and Influenza leading to a tripledemic threat in the US.
According to the CDC, there have been 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations, and 2,100 deaths from flu this season across all the states, with Missouri, Washington, Rhode Island, Arizona, New York, Virginia, New Hampshire, and North Carolina being hit the hardest. On average, 10-15% of RSV tests are positive, and COVID has been returning with different variants over the last two years, with more than 200,000 cases being reported on a weekly basis currently.
With such numbers, there is a growing concern about whether a spike in tripledemic could overwhelm the US healthcare system by increased hospitalizations, overcrowding, the burden on healthcare staffers, and exhausting delivery of supplies. So far, hospitals are somehow managing the spread of the tripledemic, but with the changing seasons, the scenario may worsen.
Tripledemic is a new term coined out of the combined triple threat of COVID-19, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), and Influenza (flu). Among these, COVID-19 has been omnipresent for almost three years now. Influenza arrives with flu season in the Fall every year, and RSV usually spikes in late December and January. However, this year RSV cases have seen a rise in November itself, and increasing COVID-19 cases coinciding with the general flu season has posed a new challenge of tripledemic for the US healthcare sector.
While it is not unusual for these viruses to spread together, there is a growing possibility of the emergence of a “tripledemic.” With the changes in seasonal cycles, medical experts emphasize that pregnant women, older adults with a respiratory condition, and children have little immunity against tripledemic.
Different types of viruses cause RSV, flu, and COVID-19. However, there are many similarities between these viruses. Certain common traits among COVI-19, flu, and RSV symptoms include:
The COVID-19 symptoms and Influenza symptoms share common traits, which include:
However, change or loss of taste or smell is more frequent with COVID-19 symptoms.
Individuals with a weakened immune system, young kids, pregnant women, and older adults with certain health conditions are at risk of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19, flu, and RSV. Young children are especially sensitive to the flu and RSV. Many children infected with these viruses develop severe complications due to insufficient immunity against the infections and lack of exposure to these viruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes RSV is the common cause of respiratory infections in children younger than five.
Certain vaccinations can reduce the impact of the tripledemic.
Vaccination is critical for those at higher risk of serious diseases and complications from COVID-19 and influenza. Influenza vaccine shots are updated each season based on the estimations of the dominant influenza circulation. Influenza vaccines have demonstrated significant efficacy in preventing infection and severe disease, particularly when the updated vaccines match the subtype in circulation.
Regarding COVID-19, keeping up to date with vaccines and booster shots is strongly advised to ensure the highest possible protection against any severe disease. Bivalent vaccines containing both the original strain and the Omicron strain are also used in many countries.
Presently, there is no vaccine for RSV. Fortunately, a monoclonal antibody preventive injection, palivizumab, is available for children most sensitive to severe diseases, and several RSV vaccines are currently in progress.
It is advisable for six months and older to get COVID and flu shots simultaneously. Besides vaccination, people at higher risk of developing severe diseases or those who want to reduce the risk of infection with these viruses can also continue to wear masks. Wearing protective masks is effective against all respiratory viral infections. The standard rectangular surgical masks provide about 50% protection against disease. N95 respirators further decrease the risk of COVID, RSV, and influenza. For older people, oral antivirals such as Paxlovid can decrease their risk of tripledemic.
Getting tested for COVID-19 is quite common, but that’s not enough. You should get tested for RSV and influenza too. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, body aches, mild fever, or any such symptoms, it is advised to contact your nearest medical professional promptly, as you will likely have COVID, RSV, or influenza. To best protect yourself from these three illnesses, vaccinations and booster shots are recommended.
Globally, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many steps have been taken to prevent the spread. However, other common diseases have gone overlooked. The United States has witnessed a health crisis as Americans started experiencing twindemic influenza and COVID-19. With Twindemic turning into Tripledemic, it has become important to be vigilant of the symptoms and seek medical assistance in time.
For effective treatment against tripledemic and to ensure the safety of your loved ones, visit your 8-2-8 Urgent Care walk-in clinic in Oceanside, CA and get proper medical attention. Our team of professional healthcare providers is well equipped to provide adequate treatment and care for tripledemic viruses. If you are sick or are caring for a loved one who is sick, please call us at 760-216-6253, and our experienced staff will walk you through our new self-check-in system. You can register and wait at home until we have a room available.