Joe asks in comments if I have heard anything about this article referencing a “tripledemic” of RSV, COVID, and Influenza.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus. It usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. RSV usually strikes children before the age of 2, and is also known to have a severe effect on those over 65 and with weakened immune systems. In the United States, nearly all children have been infected with RSV by age two. This virus has a season, and in the United States, Florida and Hawaii’s season begins in mid September, with the rest of the country’s RSV season beginning by mid-November. The incidence of RSV peaks each year by mid-winter. It is an airborne virus that can also be spread by fomites.
A fomite is a surface that is contaminated because a virus that can live for a time outside of its host is on the fomite’s surface. A person touches the fomite and then touches their face. The average person touches their face 4,000 times a day. Kids even more so. This is why frequent handwashing can be effective in preventing illness.
Influenza also has a season, as we all well know. It also strikes the immunocompromised and the elderly.
Until 2020, patterns for RSV in the United States were predictable. The patterns of RSV and other common respiratory illnesses have been messed up since the lockdowns in 2020. The number of RSV infections began to rise in the spring of 2021 and peaked in July. Why? I mean, this is usually a winter virus.
In 2020 and into 2021, there weren’t many cases of seasonal illnesses because kids were largely kept out of school during the peak RSV and flu seasons during the winter of 2020-2021. In most states not named Florida, the same happened during the 2021-2022 season, so all of the kids who would have brought the virus home to their younger siblings weren’t in school to do so. That means all of the kids born in 2019, 2020, and 2021 have not been exposed to RSV and this will create a heavier than usual RSV and flu season. It makes total sense.
The same is true of the flu. This year, the season appears to be starting a bit earlier than usual, but that is not surprising, considering what I discussed above. The past couple of years have been unusually light for the flu, and I think that we are going to have a rebound year.
So what does this mean? Nothing. Most people who get it have a bit of a cold and then soon recover.
As far as COVID: granted that this is anecdotal, but we don’t seem to be seeing any more COVID than we have been seeing for the past year, at least not in my hospital. It’s just a constant background now. I have had it twice, and I don’t even bother to wear a mask when I treat COVID patients any more. The CDC is not really reporting a high number of COVID cases right now.
I don’t think that there is anything to make a big deal out of right now. That may change, but for now I don’t think it’s anything to get in a lather over.