Local health officials prepare for “tridemic” spike in respiratory illnesses

Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 5:39 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - It’s that time of year where sneezes, coughs, and wheezes become all too common.

Local health officials said there’s a triple threat looming that they worry could overwhelm local hospitals with a potential surge in three respiratory illnesses: COVID-19, influenza, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

“Last year there was very little influenza,” said Blessing Health’s chief quality and safety officer Mary Frances Barthel. “And for the last two years very little RSV. RSV is a virus that affects almost everybody, but by the time you’re in adulthood, you’ve already been exposed to it. You have immunity to it.”

Barthel said it can be a serious respiratory illness for young children whose lungs are not fully developed. What poses a bigger problem is that many kids over the last two years have not been exposed to it.

“For the last two years, kids haven’t been doing their normal activities,” Barthel said. “A lot of them haven’t been in daycares and if they have they’ve been distanced.”

She said the amount of cases is at an all time high and much earlier in the season.

“You usually see it in February and March,” she said.

Barthel said Blessing is preparing staff for an anticipated influx in the three illnesses soon enough. The hospital has been performing drills that allow staff to experience this influx, so they’re better prepared.

Adams County Health Department’s infectious disease supervisor Jon Campos said they have both the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots available at the clinic for walk-ins. However, there are no RSV vaccines since there is no RSV vaccines in existence.

“If you have a fever or are experiencing shortness of breath, that’s when it’s time to see a doctor,” Campos said.

Campos said aside from children, those 65 and older and with compromised immune system should proceed with caution this winter.

“The best prevention is to wash your hands or stay home when you’re sick.”

Barthel said they are focused on making sure everyone gets their flu shot this year and up to date on any eligible booster they might be able to receive for COVID-19.

She recommends going to the Blessing Express Clinic which offers the same services a regular clinic does, including vaccinations.

The Adams County Health Department takes walk-ins from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday for vaccinations.

More Information on RSV- CDC

Release from CDC on RSV prevention, Nov. 4, 2022

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