With the flu season in full swing, some public health experts are concerned about the possibility of a tripledemic. In such a scenario, three different respiratory viruses circulate at the same time—influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and SARS-CoV-2.
Each of them can put people in the hospital, and very young children are particularly vulnerable. Some pediatric emergency rooms are already overwhelmed. Both the flu and RSV can also make older adults dangerously ill.
Why a Tripledemic?
The flu season has started especially early this year. In addition, cases of RSV are nearing peak levels in many parts of the country. Consequently, if and when cases of COVID-19 start to climb, emergency departments may have great difficulty providing care to everyone who needs it. As mentioned above, some hospitals are already under stress.
Precautions can interrupt viral transmission, so we still have a chance to avoid a tripledemic. However, that will work only if enough people observe measures such as scrupulous hand washing, wearing N95 masks in public places and staying home when they have symptoms. Officials also urge us to keep our vaccinations up to date. That is good advice, although currently there is no vaccine against RSV.