Tuesday, December 20, 2022

RSV, flu, COVID: Doctors concerned over possibility of ‘tripledemic’ worsening. Here’s what to know

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The colder temperatures herald a new health threat: not only are we dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, but also with flu and RSV.

We are in the midst of a severe “triple disease” and experts fear it could get worse.

In hospitals across Los Angeles County, emergency rooms and beds are filling up quickly.

“Every day we see a large number of influenza cases, a large number of RSV cases and an increasing number of COVID cases,” said Dr. Michael Ben-Aderet, Associate Director of Hospital Epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Overnight on Tuesday, LA County’s new infections rose more than 80% from 2,370 to more than 4,350 on Wednesday. Officials reported 10 more deaths. And since yesterday, nearly 100 more people have been hospitalized.

“Right now we’re seeing a lot of viruses in the community,” said Ben-Aderet. He said the flu, COVID-19 and the RSV triple epidemic showed no signs of slowing down.

“Unless you’re seriously ill, you shouldn’t come to the emergency room. You should take advantage of urgent care and telemedicine visits to your doctor or a regular visit to your GP,” he said. “We definitely want to reserve the emergency room for seriously ill patients.”

Most can recover at home with rest and fluids,

But a rapid COVID test or flu test can help you figure out if you can benefit from antiviral drugs like Paxlovid and Tamiflu. And if you haven’t already, get vaccinated.

“So get your flu shot,” Ben-Aderet said. “Get your COVID vaccine and get your booster if you’re eligible. This is very important and will help prevent illness and hospitalization, especially among the most vulnerable.”

While COVID doesn’t spread effectively across surfaces, other viruses do. So wash your hands often. Covering up can help slow the spread of any germs.

“For example, wear a mask on a crowded bus or plane, in places where you will be with strangers,” Ben-Aderet said. “They don’t know these people. They don’t know who is sick and who isn’t. It’s a good opportunity to wear a mask.

Doctors say COVID boosters are more important than ever as new information shows the last remaining monoclonal antibody treatment isn’t up to par with the latest sub-variants.

The FDA has suspended its emergency use approval for an Eli Lily drug because it is not expected to work against BQ.1 and BQ.1.1.

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