JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Doctors are noticing a spike in respiratory infections across the United States including in Florida.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, at least 1.8 million people across the U.S. have been infected with the flu this season — 17,000 people were hospitalized. And, so far, data shows, there have been 1,100 flu deaths.
Baptist Health Medical Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Shalika Katugaha said there’s currently a trifecta of respiratory infections affecting Floridians.
Eleven states, predominantly in the South, experienced high cases of the flu during the Thanksgiving holiday week. According to a CDC map, Florida was one of those states.
“We’re seeing a few more cases of the flu, and RSV is hitting its peak. We also have in the background, some COVID,” she explained.
All three infections have similar symptoms and can only be diagnosed through testing. Katugaha said in 2022, there was an early presence of flu and RSV in October. As of this year, flu infections started picking up in late November and early December.
“The past week, 3.9% of healthcare provider visits were due to some sort of respiratory illness, and this is what we see in winter months,” Katugaha said.
Once infected with either RSV or the flu, a person can experience fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. If the symptoms are not addressed, the respiratory infection can go from being a viral infection to a bacterial infection, which further suppresses the immune system and could be deadly.
“That’s when people get the bacterial pneumonia. That’s when you can’t breathe and need antibiotics” Katugaha said.
Medical experts suggest if you are sick, don’t go to work and risk passing it to others. They also said if you have sick children, don’t send them to school where they could infect other children.
Handwashing is also important to prevent the spread of germs.
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