Navigating the Tripledemic: What to Know About RSV, Covid, and the Flu
On top of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic for the last couple of years, it’s been a tough winter season for families with three major viruses spreading across the country at the same time: RSV, COVID-19, and influenza. For families with young children, these highly contagious viruses (deemed the “Tripledemic”) can be especially concerning.
So what should you know about each of these viruses? And how can you protect your family from them? Keep reading for information on each of these viruses, symptoms to watch out for, and tips for staying safe during this time.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
RSV is a common respiratory virus that primarily affects infants and young children. However, it can affect people of all ages. The virus is highly contagious and easily spread through coughing and sneezing. It can also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs and toys.
Symptoms of RSV include coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. If your child is displaying any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention or contact your child’s pediatrician. There are treatments available that can help ease symptoms and make your child more comfortable.
Among the most serious complications of RSV is pneumonia, which can be life-threatening. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that causes swelling and fluid buildup. This can make it difficult for oxygen to get to the lungs, leading to serious respiratory problems. Other complications of RSV include bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lungs) and ear infections.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent the spread of RSV is to practice good hygiene. This includes washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. It’s also important to regularly disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus.
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that has spread throughout the world since late 2019. It can cause severe respiratory illness and can be fatal. The virus is highly contagious and easily spread through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever or chills, cough, headache, body aches, fatigue, sore throat, and difficulty breathing.
The best way to prevent getting sick with COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and to avoid or limit your exposure to the virus. This can be done by washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60-95% alcohol content) if soap and water are not available; avoiding contact with sick people and/or wearing a mask in crowded spaces; covering your cough or sneeze; cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched objects and surfaces; and keeping at least six (6) feet between you and people you do not live with.
If you or your child do feel sick, stay home. Call WFMC first to evaluate your symptoms over the phone or by using our telemedicine service. If you have at-home COVID-19 tests, consider using one.
Every household in the U.S. is eligible to receive four FREE at-home COVID-19 tests by mail. To order your at-home tests, visit https://www.covid.gov/tests.
Our healthcare team stays up-to-date with CDC-recommended protocols to limit exposure to or the spread of COVID-19 and other acute illnesses. WFMC Health is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients and staff.
Influenza—or “the flu”— is a common viral infection that affects people of all ages every year. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, cough, and fatigue. While most people who come down with the flu will recover within a week or two, some may develop complications that can lead to hospitalization or even death.
While there is no specific cure for the flu, there are antiviral medications that can be used to treat it. These medications can help to shorten the duration of illness and may also reduce the severity of symptoms.
In addition, there are steps that everyone can take to help prevent the spread of influenza. These include getting vaccinated against the virus strain each year and taking everyday precautions like washing your hands often and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. The flu vaccine is safe and effective, and it is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the virus.
Staying Healthy and Safe
While there is no surefire way to prevent yourself or your family from getting sick during this time of increased virus spread, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. First and foremost, practice good hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should also avoid close contact with people or family members who are sick and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
If you or your child starts showing symptoms of any of these viruses, contact your provider at WFMC Health so we can evaluate your symptoms over the phone and help you get the treatment you need. However, please note that because the community spread of these pediatric respiratory illnesses this winter is so high, you may notice that wait times for calls back or appointments at WFMC Health are much longer than normal. We are working hard to increase staffing and appointment accessibility.
For more information, read our full update on wait times and sick visits.