The ‘tripledemic’ has landed: What it looks like, and what to do
For months, public health experts in the U.S. have been warning of an impending tidal wave of respiratory illness — an ominously termed “tripledemic” with sky-high cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza and COVID in the same season. And early, steep spikes of both RSV and the flu, combined with a burgeoning swell of COVID cases, indicate that this moment has now arrived in Maryland and most other states.
Dr. J. David Gatz, emergency department medical director at the University of Maryland Medical Center, says the term tripledemic indeed “captures the situation we’re in” now, still early in the respiratory illness season, with three viruses already “surging more or less at the same time.”
And the early severity of viral surges, he says, underscores the need to take measures to slow the spread of illness over the holidays.
Dr. Susan Lipton, chief of the department of pediatric infectious diseases at Sinai Hospital, says it all started when RSV — a common seasonal respiratory virus with potential to cause severe illness in children, particularly those under 3 — ”showed up eight weeks early” in August and September. Cases skyrocketed through the month of October and peaked at the end with 263 hospitalized for the virus statewide.
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