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RSV, Flu, Covid Create ‘Tripledemic’

By Manny Otiko  ~ IVN

Just when you thought America was getting a hold of COVID-19, another respiratory disease has arrived on the scene. 

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common virus that causes flu-like symptoms. Most of the recent cases are seen in young children. The Washington Post, citing figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported more than 100,000 Americans took time off last month to care for sick children. Many of these were likely caused by RSV. 

Some medical scientists are calling the advent of RSV, COVID, (which is still killing about 300 Americans per day) and the flu, a “tripledemic.” 

A local health expert has warned San Bernardino County residents to be on the lookout for more cases of RSV.  

“San Bernardino County is seeing high rates of respiratory illness severely impacting capacity in our pediatric hospitals with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) being a contributing factor,” said County Health Officer Dr. Michael Sequeira in a news release. “Respiratory illnesses can severely affect young infants and children, and we are encouraging residents to take precautions.” 

According to information provided by the San Bernardino County Health Department, signs of RSV usually occur after about four-six days after infections. Symptoms include congestion, sneezing, fever and coughing.  

A recent Ethnic Media Services seminar featured doctors who work on the front lines of this latest health issue. The doctors say RSV cases are occurring earlier than the usual flu season. The first signs appeared on the East Coast and this usually moves across the country.  

“It’s very unusual to see it this early,” said Dr. Mina Hakim, a pediatric specialist who works at South Central Health Care Center in Los Angeles.  

“This is coming to a point where it’s overwhelming our ERs and our ICUs, and our hospitals,” he said. “We’re seeing a very early spike, we don’t know what is going to happen for the rest of the season.” 

RSV is more prevalent in six-months olds. One reason why they are more susceptible to the disease is they have smaller airwaves and are unable to clear their passages, like adults and older children. 

Hakim said RSV is a communicable disease. He has noticed that the lifestyles of his patients, who are mainly Hispanic, might contribute to the spread of the disease. Many live in houses with several children going to different school districts. This only increases their exposure.  

Medical experts say the best way to fight RSV is to use the same techniques we used to fight the flu, colds and Covid; washing hands, wiping surfaces, avoiding large gatherings and staying home when infected. 

According to Dr. Manisha Newaskar, clinical assistant professor of Pulmonary Medicine at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, precautions taken during the beginning of the Covid pandemic could have slowed RSV. But now public masking has become a political hot potato, few politicians want to enforce it. 

“We were taking utmost precautions, right? We were wearing masks, we were washing hands, we were not sending our kids to school if they were having even a sniffle. So that’s what was causing fewer cases and now that things have opened up, the world has gone back to its normal pace,” said Newaskar.  

Inland Valley News coverage of local news in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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