Michigan health experts warn of ‘tripledemic’ - COVID, flu, RSV

Doctors across Michigan are warning residents that COVID, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) could surge as the weather gets colder.
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 10:51 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Doctors across Michigan are warning residents that COVID, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) could surge as the weather gets colder.

After more than two years of pandemic precautions, health experts are warning that without them, this season is shaping up to be the worst in a long time.

Oct. 25, 2022: Michigan reports 12,167 new COVID cases, 158 deaths over past 7 days

For the past two years, COVID and the flu have been on the forefront, infecting people with with respiratory illness, but a new illness is infecting some of the youngest patients - children under 2.

A surge in RSV cases could cause what health experts are calling a tripledemic.

“We’re going to have lots of people sick with three different viruses that, regretfully, look a lot alike in many people,” said Dr. John Brooks, with McLaren Health.

COVID and influenza have both ravaged the healthcare system, but respiratory syncytial virus is surging its way to the top.

“We didn’t have RSV for a whole season,” Brooks said. “We went a whole year without RSV.”

RSV can cause severe breathing problems for babies and it’s spreading across the country. Brooks, the director of Infection Prevention at McLaren Health, said 70% of pediatric beds are getting filled by children with RSV.

They aren’t alone.

“We’ve had children waiting in the emergency department for hours for a bed,” said Dr. Steven Martin, with Sparrow Health.

Martin said half of the children hospitalized have RSV.

Related: Hospital beds are filling up with children, health officials say

The RSV season usually coincides with flu and now COVID season, which is expected to last three to four months. We’re one month in.

“That’s worrisome,” Martin said. “We’re already having children waiting in the emergency department for a bed.”

There are things people can do to help slow the spread - like hand washing and avoiding small spaces when sick, like family gatherings and school and other places where children are present.

“If you’re a respiratory virus, that’s where you want to be because it gives you the right environment,” Brooks said.

RSV doesn’t have a vaccine, but COVID and the flu do.

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