Let’s face it: We’re all tired of the pandemic and are doing an awesome job of pretending things are just fine. Some think that lenient health regulations are an indication that COVID is no longer a threat and that humans have prevailed against its havoc. It’d be nice if this were indeed true, but it isn’t. If you think the casualties caused by the pandemic were terrible, imagine what a tripledemic is capable of unleashing.
Tripledemic? What is it?
The term “tripledemic” describes a simultaneous outbreak of RSV, COVID, and influenza (flu). Two years ago, around this time of the year, people from both the left and right were succumbing to COVID.
This year, we’re faced with a myriad of respiratory illnesses aside from just COVID. Doctors are concerned with the death toll coming from not just COVID but influenza and RSV as well, so much so that it might overwhelm hospitals once again.
Although, according to the CDC, RSV-related casualties are starting to simmer down, people shouldn’t be too complacent as all three contagious respiratory illnesses are continuously spreading.
Where is it happening?
The tripledemic is sweeping every nook and cranny in the United States, affecting several states that lie in its wake. According to Dr. David Bucholz, a medical director and pediatrician at Columbia University, the colder areas of the country are at risk of tripledemic.
According to Dr. Timothy Brewer, cold temperatures and dry air are responsible for the quick spread of the three respiratory illnesses. He further states that flu activity has suddenly burst in states like Texas and the Southeast.
As per the CDC, there are 13 states in the U.S. that are classified as having the highest level of flu activity:
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
Of course, people who aren’t vaccinated are more exposed to the likelihood of getting either of the three respiratory illnesses. In addition to these illnesses, RSV is the only one that has no vaccination against it.
That being said, according to the data presented by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the following states have the lowest flu shot distribution, putting them at risk of tripledemic:
Tripledemic isn’t only making its way to the U.S.; it’s also causing panic among several neighboring countries in the Americas and Europe. In Europe, pediatric hospitals are overwhelmed with admitted young patients due to RSV.
According to reports from the ECDC, RSV is spreading rapidly in nations like France, Spain, Ireland, and Sweden. In addition to this alarming information, PAHO also reported that hospitals in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and Uruguay are overrun with infants under the age of one due to respiratory infections.
How can you stay safe?
With regards to the reports gathered by medical institutions, people would be quick to assume that only infants and children are susceptible to the tripledemic. In reality, adults aren’t spared from the claws of these (now deadly) respiratory illnesses.
Prevention in adults
For adults, the best way to prevent infection from the tripledemic would be:
- To get the latest booster vaccination against COVID-19.
- To receive the latest flu shot.
- Take antiviral drugs (as prescribed by a doctor) to treat influenza.
- To avoid going into crowded places when exhibiting symptoms of RSV, influenza, or COVID.
- To avoid using the hands when sneezing and/or coughing.
- To ensure that hands are kept clean by washing them properly, at all times.
- Using face masks in crowded places.
- Opening windows in indoor, crowded places.
- Making it a habit to clean contaminated surfaces, especially ones that are often touched by people.
Prevention in children
As for keeping children safe from the tripledemic, more attention needs to be focused here. Parents are urged to know the signs of a severe RSV infection to help them determine if their child needs immediate medical care.
As we all know, RSV is the second leading cause of death in children, so it’s really imperative to be aware of what’s at stake.
- Parents with a newly born baby should limit and be careful with their visitors. Moreso, said visitors must be free from symptoms of RSV, COVID, or the flu.
- Parents must encourage their children to wash their hands at all times.
- Parents must teach their children to use tissue when sneezing and coughing instead of using their hands. This prevents kids from wiping their snot or phlegm on surfaces where people usually come in contact with.
- When a child exhibits symptoms coming from any of the three respiratory illness, they must be secluded from others to prevent spreading the illness.
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