Morgantown, WV (WOAY) – A rise in respiratory illnesses nationwide leads health experts at West Virginia University to notify the public of “tridemic,” widespread occurrences of influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
After two mild flu seasons, credited to COVID-19 safety guidelines like masking and social distancing, experts predict more significant widespread infection this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network reports the highest laboratory-confirmed flu hospitalization rate since 2010-2011.
Symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and RSV are usually the same as the common cold but can cause severe infection in some individuals. The three respiratory illnesses also share several of the same symptoms, like fever, cough, and runny nose.
Flu and COVID-19 share several of the same mild and severe symptoms, including death in vulnerable individuals.
Best practices for protection against illness are:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand rub. Make sure to clean between your fingers and around your wrists. Sing the chorus of “Country Roads” as you wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when someone touches something contaminated with germs and then touches the eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or the bend of your elbow, not your hands. Use the nearest waste receptacle to dispose of the tissue after use.
- Avoid contact with individuals who are sick when possible.
Anyone experiencing flu- or COVID-19-like symptoms should confirm the diagnosis with a home COVID-19 test to begin treatment and isolation to help reduce the severity of illness and prevent community spread.
RSV sometimes leads to severe illness, affecting the lungs and breathing passages, especially in infants and older adults. Most RSV cases in healthy adults clear up after one to two weeks. There is no vaccine for RSV.
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months and older. This includes individuals with conditions that could put them at higher risk for flu complications and pregnant women.
Individuals ages six months and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. West Virginians are encouraged to use the free online WV COVID-19 Vaccination Due Date Calculator to determine eligibility and due dates.