While it is common to see an uptick in respiratory illnesses in the winter months, this year we have a triple combo of COVID-19, flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) threatening the nation.
“We’re seeing an uptick in influenza cases — actually, one of the biggest we’ve seen in the last 10 years, which is important. This is pairing also with an uprise in COVID-19 cases as well as RSV we saw that started ticking in October which mainly affects pediatric patients,” explained Dr. Lucia Abascal, a spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Winter brings more respiratory viruses like #RSV. This can be serious for babies and young children with certain medical conditions or weak immune systems.— CA Public Health (@CAPublicHealth) December 15, 2022
Call your health care provider if your child has trouble breathing or shows signs of dehydrationhttps://t.co/02D0bFE6w8 pic.twitter.com/1f0VzI09JB
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there have been at least 13 million flu cases this season.
The CDC was reporting that nearly 70% of the country was facing very high and high levels of influenza based on data ending Nov. 19, 2022. Two weeks later, data ending Dec. 3, 2022, shows how flu cases are dominating the nation, according to the CDC.
“It’s a combination of relaxing masking and social distancing and everything. Since this virus goes through our mouth, through our nose, the things we were doing for COVID helped for influenza,” Dr. Abascal said. “Now that we don’t have that and we have a particularly strong strain of influenza, we are seeing a lot of disease."
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CDPH reports that in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, flu transmission remains at a moderate level.
For COVID-19, CDPH says the positivity rate in San Luis Obispo County is 7.4% and in Santa Barbara County, it is 10%.
CDPH reports that the RSV positivity rate in California is nearly 8%.
What to do with the holidays just around the corner?
“Go get your booster. At the same time, you can get a flu vaccine. There is no issue if you get both together,” Dr. Abascal suggested. “One thing that helps for the three diseases is masking. I know we’re tired of it but we know that really helps. ”
Other recommendations include proper hand washing, testing — especially if attending indoor gatherings — and staying home if you feel sick.
If you still haven’t received your COVID-19 vaccine, booster or flu vaccine, click here to schedule an appointment.