The United States faces three threats: the confluence of viral infections from respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, and Covid-19. Many children’s hospitals are overwhelmed by the surge in cases. RSVin the meantime flu level has been the highest so far this year for more than a decade.And after a lull in the case, a new Number of people infected with coronavirus is increasing nationwide.
All of this can happen as the holiday season begins, with more travel, more indoor gatherings, and fewer precautions than the last two years.
How careful should people be? Who should be most careful? Can a person be infected with all three viruses at the same time? What steps can be taken to reduce risk and stay safe? Can steps be taken and should mandates such as masking and social distancing be reinstated?
To answer these questions, we spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency physician and public health expert, George She is Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of Washington Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is also the author of “.Lifeline: A Physician’s Journey in the Battle for Public Health”
Seasonal Flu: What You Need to Know
– Source: CNN
CNN: Why should people be concerned about the convergence of RSV, flu and Covid-19?
Dr. Liana Wen: There are several reasons to be concerned about this so-called triple demic.
One is the impact at the societal level. Children’s hospitals across the United States are already overwhelmed with children infected with viruses such as RSV and influenza.Some experts speculate that this is due to immune gap This is the result of mitigation measures implemented over the past two years.The situation is so bad that children’s health leaders requested a formal declaration of a state of emergency From the Biden administration to better support these hospitals. (Although the administration has not declared a state of emergency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to the governor last week saying it “stands ready to continue to support resources, supplies and personnel.”)
Patient care becomes difficult when hospitals exceed capacity. Patients who come to the emergency department have to wait longer because there are not enough staff to serve them. Patients requiring hospitalization may wait days for a bed to become available. Some patients, especially in rural areas, may have to travel hours away for the care they need.
These delays can be harmful and even fatal. It also delays treatment of medical emergencies such as fractures, asthma attacks, and appendicitis.
Another is the results for particularly vulnerable individuals. Most people with RSV, influenza, Covid-19, and other respiratory illnesses have mild symptoms, but the most vulnerable develop severe illness, requiring intensive care and even dying. The higher the infection rate in society, the more dangerous it is for vulnerable people.
Of course, no one wants to get sick. Even mild viral illnesses can cause inconvenience, such as missing work or school. And even if you don’t need to be hospitalized, you can still feel sick and infect others. High levels of infection with these viruses therefore concern us all.
CNN: Who is the most alarming person at this time of year?
Wen: Those who need the most attention are those who are most at risk of severe disease. This includes the elderly, newborns, and people with multiple chronic conditions. These are the people most susceptible to the virus, and mild infections in healthy young adults can lead to hospitalization.
Another group to watch out for is people who have direct contact with high-risk people. Spouse of an immunocompromised person, family members living with an elderly person, parents or carers of newborns, all of these should protect themselves to prevent infection to vulnerable people in their immediate household. should reduce the risk of infection of
CNN: Can a person be infected with all three viruses?
Wen: In theory, yes. Someone could definitely get infected with all three viruses in her one year. However, you usually can’t get them all at the same time. The term “triple infection” refers to the simultaneous surge of all three viruses in a population, not necessarily in the same person (which is usually not the case).
CNN: What steps can you take to mitigate risk and stay safe?
Wen: Covid-19 and flu vaccines exist to prevent severe illness and death. People should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on staying up-to-date. coronavirus When influenza vaccine.
Coronavirus is airborne. It is safer to gather with others outdoors than indoors, as good ventilation reduces the spread. Indoor environments may be less risky if ventilation is improved, such as opening doors and windows and using HEPA filters.
Influenza and RSV are spread primarily through droplets. People should stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing (those with symptoms should avoid public places). Everyone should wash their hands frequently. This is especially important for young children who often put their hands in their mouths.
There are other important tools such as testing and masking. He can reduce his risk by taking a Covid-19 test before gathering, as well as if he wears a high quality N95 or equivalent mask (KN95 or KF94).
CNN: Are cloth masks or regular medical masks enough?
Wen: No. The virus that causes Covid-19 spreads through fine droplets that can pass through cloth and regular medical masks. N95 masks are the gold standard Provides the best protection against respiratory viruses.
Some people may not be able to tolerate N95. These individuals can wear two medical masks or a cloth mask over a medical mask. But those options aren’t as protective as her properly fitted N95 or equivalent.
CNN: Should orders like masking and social distancing be reinstated?
Wen: I think it would be very difficult to ask everyone to wear masks, keep their distance and avoid indoor gatherings with loved ones, especially during the holidays. Down’s mandate is that it must be reserved for truly dire situations where there is no other option. Not at the moment.
That said, just because it is unlikely to be mandatory across the board does not mean that people should not take care of themselves. People should choose to wear a close-fitting N95 or equivalent while in crowded indoor spaces. You can choose protection measures for And, again, you need to make sure you’re vaccinated against Covid-19 and the flu with the currently available vaccines.