Many states in the US are coping with suffocating heat waves, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already looking ahead to the coming of the colder seasons and the diseases they are likely to bring.
The respiratory virus trifecta
A triple pandemic, or “tripledemic” hit the US last year, meaning three respiratory bugs hit the country at the same time: RSV, the flu, and covid-19. The confluence of these three viruses strained the health system.
The first to hit was RSV or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, which began early and affected babies and children hard. It’s a common viral infection that primarily affects the respiratory system, particularly the lungs and breathing passages.
RSV is a significant cause of respiratory illnesses in infants, young children, and older adults, especially those with weakened immune systems or pre-existing health conditions. This virus is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than one year of age in the country.
Flu season also began early last year, tallying at least 8.7 million illnesses and 4,500 deaths by the end of 2022, according to NPR.
Covid-19 still a threat
Covid-19 remained a serious illness and was the fourth leading cause of death in the US last year, according to the CDC.
At the moment, the spread of the three respiratory viruses is still at a low level, but the CDC has begun to record a slight uptick in positive covid-19 tests and covid-19-related visits to the ER.
Americans will likely be urged to protect themselves against the tripledemic by getting shots. The country will have access to a vaccine against RSV for the first time, and this is projected to drastically reduce the chance of illness among infants and the elderly, who are the most likely to get hit by the virus.
The health system will have to learn how to time the delivery of three vaccines to have the most effective results in a population that is already experiencing vaccine fatigue.