As the “triple disease” moves in, the authorities recommend masking +2023

woman wearing mask outside amid triple demic of covid, rsv and flu

Some local officials are pushing for masking indoors as the country faces a brutal holiday season from COVID, the flu and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Dubbed the “triple disease” or “tridemic,” these three infections are causing a surge in the disease, overwhelming some hospitals and affecting millions of Americans.

“Hospitalizations for flu continue to be the highest we’ve seen at this time of year in a decade,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said in a recent briefing. according to Reuters. Over 25,000 people were hospitalized with the flu alone last week, according to CDC.

Meanwhile, the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics called on the federal government in a letter dated November 14 to declare a state of emergency to address “alarmingly high rates of RSV and other respiratory illnesses” amid labor shortages. And since December 7th The New York Times reports that COVID cases and hospitalizations are up more than 25 percent in the past two weeks, with positive tests increasing.

“COVID cases, flu cases and RSV cases are all starting to rise,” confirmed Dean Winslow, MD, an infectious disease physician at Stanford. In response, public health officials gave in WashingtonOregon, new Yorkand los Angeles urge residents to wear masks indoors.

“The combination of rising flu, RSV and COVID-19 cases is pushing hospitals beyond their current ICU bed capacity, something unprecedented in Oregon’s darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the health officer and Oregon Health Authority state epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger, MD, said in a press conference on December 8th.

Then, on December 9th, a group of over two dozen public health officials and executives in Washington published a joint letter“recommend[ing] that everyone wears a quality, well-fitting mask when they are indoors with others to protect themselves from both catching and transmitting these infections” and staying up to date on vaccinations. What does this mean for Here’s what you should know about the tridemic and how to protect yourself.

What you should know about the tridemic

dr Winslow says a tridemic of COVID-19, the flu, and RSV is not a big surprise to the medical community. “In winter in the northern hemisphere, we see a higher rate of respiratory infections,” he tells POPSUGAR. “You’re more indoors, and with viruses being spread by small particle aerosols and droplets, you’re more likely to be exposed indoors.” Eased travel restrictions, fewer mask wears and low flu vaccination rates and COVID-19 (particularly the bivalent booster) also play a role in increasing the prevalence of these diseases, he adds. RSV in particular is very common – almost all children get RSV infection by their second birthday, according to the CDC — but could spike sharply right now as young children born of a pandemic go to restriction-free areas and are exposed for the first time, experts said CNN.

It’s worth noting that you’re unlikely to contract more than one of these viruses at the same time, says Dr. Winslow, as your body’s immune response to fighting off one of them should provide “very short-term” protection from the others. That’s at least some good news, because dealing with just one of these viruses is exhausting enough. RSV can lead to more serious conditions such as bronchiolitis, an infection of the small airways in the lungs that is particularly dangerous for young and premature babies. Immunocompromised adults are also at higher risk of developing RSV complications and more serious cases of COVID-19 and the flu. And from a broader perspective, the overlapping waves of COVID, flu and RSV have the potential to overwhelm healthcare services that are already under pressure.

How to protect yourself during a tridemic

Vaccination against COVID-19 (including booster shots) and the flu is the best way to stay safe during a potential tridemic, says Dr. Winslow. With the holiday season comes a lot of travel, partying and indoor time, so it’s important to get your vaccination appointments scheduled as soon as possible. “Now is the time to get hold of the two vaccines available that help protect against serious illness, hospitalizations and death,” says Dr. Winslow. (However, no RSV vaccine is currently available one is in development.)

For large gatherings, keep in mind that “the more people you’re exposed to, the more likely you are to transmit respiratory viruses,” according to the infectious disease expert Amesh Adalia, MD, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University, says. Each event also has its own dynamics (e.g. ventilation, vaccination status, etc.) that affect the risk to participants, adds Dr. Adalia added.

It is important to “encourage people to stay at home when they are sick, to wash their hands frequently and to [you’re at] high risk of serious illness, wear a mask indoors,” says Dr. Adalia. “For people who are extremely high risk, they can ask people to test for COVID before the event.”

It’s also a good idea to eat and socialize outdoors whenever possible. “Many of us who deal with infectious diseases are still personally very cautious,” says Dr. Winslow. “These are just small, prudent steps you can take to further protect yourself and others.”

At social gatherings – or any situation where you are with other people – masking is one of the most important preventive measures to protect yourself and others from infection. Dr. Walensky promotes masking, especially for those living in areas with high rates of COVID. You can check your community levels and the CDC’s specific guidelines for your region their tracking page.

If you’re not feeling well, be sure to get a COVID-19 test or a flu test (available at most pharmacies) and stay away from others to avoid further transmission. While some cases of COVID-19, RSV (especially in adults), and the flu can be treated at home, Dr. Winslow to see a doctor if you have experienced a persistent high fever or shortness of breath, which leads to the symptoms associated with all three disorders.

Other signs to see a doctor for COVID-19 include persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, inability to wake up or stay awake, and discolored (bluish) skin, lips, or nail beds, the authorities said CDC. With the flu, see a doctor if you experience fainting, a severe sore throat, or a cough with a lot of green or yellow phlegm UCSF Health. For the RSV is the Mayo Clinic points out that warning signs to see a doctor include bluish and discolored skin, lips, or nail beds, as well as a high fever and difficulty breathing.

– Additional reporting by Alexis Jones and Sara Youngblood Gregory

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