Tripledemic makes its way into the community
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Health specialists call it a tripledemic. RSV, the flu and COVID are all pushing their way into homes. And people are left to wonder which one is which.
Pediatricians have been swamped trying to figure that out.
"If you get a flu-like illness right now, it's more likely to be RSV, second-most likely to be COVID, and then flu would be the third," said Dr. Bill Petri, Professor of Infectious Disease at UVA Health.
Dr. Petri says while you will probably feel pretty sick, middle-aged people don't have much to worry about in RSV because the really bad cases tend to be in the extreme of ages.
"So the very young, under 8 months of age and 60 years of age or older are where we really worry about RSV and influenza having the worst outcomes," he says.
The thing is it's a little more difficult to test for RSV because there are no at-home test kits. The only way to test is by going to the hospital, which Dr. Petri says isn't necessary in every case.
"We run a test for all three viruses. So if someone comes in with flu-like symptoms, there's a PCR test that unfortunately only hospitals and labs can do right now," he says.
Petri says the best course of action is to stay home until you feel better and mask up around others.
"Because all three of these viruses are spread in the respiratory route, wearing a mask is going to protect other people and it makes sense if you have a flu-like illness to stay home for 4 or 5 days. That'll help lower the risk of spreading not only COVID but flu and RSV," he says.
And then he says get vaccinated.
"That's for everyone 6 months of age and older who should get the new COVID vaccine and we have a new flu vaccine this year as well," said Petri.
The RSV vaccine is also available for people 60 years and older.
And children 8 months or younger should receive the RSV antibody.
Petri says it's a good time to check with your doctor heading into the winter holidays.