Dr. Rai talks threat of “tripledemic”, how you can help prevent it

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 7:33 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Influenza, COVID-19, and RSV. All of these viruses are hitting us at once as we go into the winter season.

Prevea President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai joined us on Action 2 News This Morning to talk about the threat of a so-called “tripledemic” and how you can prevent spreading illness.

TRIPLEDEMIC

“It’s not as much about getting infected with all three at once--granted that that could happen, but that’s more of a rarity--we do worry about especially in adults having COVID and influenza at the same time--but it’s really about a stacking effect on the health care system, having patients admitted with RSV, particularly children, and then another group of patients being admitted with influenza, which we do see every year but we’re already seeing influenza and it could be a bad year for us with influenza, and then COVID hasn’t gone away, still see COVID activity in the hospitals. So you start to add up patients for all three, that’s pretty overwhelming. You’ve got to remember we don’t just take care of viruses in the hospital. We have strokes, we have heart attacks, we have trauma. So we start to worry about access to health care for everyone within the health care system when we go into a season like this. So urgent cares, ERs, floor beds all being filled, ICUs being filled, We worry about that stacking effect and that’s where that tripledemic term comes from.”

SYMPTOMS AND SIMILARITIES

“There’s a lot more similarities as far as how you’re going to feel. The viruses are very different as far as their makeup goes, but fevers, coughs, runny nose, stomach symptoms, pretty consistent among the three. So you’re not going to be able to sit at home and say, ‘I think I have COVID’ or ‘I think I have influenza.’ You have to remember adults can get RSV as well, which feels like a common cold. So it’s important to understand that if you have any of those symptoms, the most important thing thing you can do is understand you are sick, possibly with one of those three, could opt to get tested, just so you know, because there are treatments, especially with COVID and influenza if you’re an adult; and more importantly, if you’re sick, it’s really important to stay away from everybody else. So stay home.”

RSV IN CHILDREN

“RSV causes an increase in secretions, the nasal secretions, so when you have really tiny airwaves they get plugged up by those secretions more commonly, so kids--especially those under six months, we really worry about a situation like this. They’re more likely to be hospitalized. But also kids who were born early--newborns that were premature, those who have underlying heart and lung conditions or their immune system--might be slightly compromised, that’s a lot more children than we can think of, and there are a lot of children under six months; so it’s really important that although you may do well with RSV, it’s to prevent that transmission to a child.”

VACCINATIONS AND PREVENTION

“For two of the viruses [influenza and COVID-19] we have a vaccination, so it’s important to get vaccinated. More importantly, with RSV especially as we’re starting to see that uptick in our hospitals right now and in our community, we did a good job with this with COVID early on when it comes to wiping down surfaces, and we found out COVID, maybe, through research, isn’t going to live that long on surfaces, but we definitely know that about RSV. As we head into Thanksgiving and head into the other holiday seasons upon us, it’s also wipe-down season. Wipe down anything you can touch. It’s important to get really good hand washing again, hand sanitizing. It’s really important if you have small children, especially as we head into the holiday season, is to keep them protected. Maybe avoid passing the baby around at Thanksgiving, kissing the baby, touching the baby, it’s really important to keep our infants safe right now and really protect them against a virus that’s living on surfaces. If it can be touched, wipe it down.”

“You may not think about yourself. You could be really healthy and you don’t want to get vaccinated, but it’s also getting vaccinated so you have less of a chance of transmitting it. It’s not a zero chance, but less of a chance. If you have any risk factors, much less of a chance of getting admitted into a hospital when we’re going to see a shortage of beds, long wait times in the ER and urgent caer, you don’t want to be in that situation. The best way to prevent it, especially for those that are age-appropriate, to get the influenza vaccine and get the most up to date COVID booster.”