'Tri-Demic': Docs Sound Alarm On Triple-Threat Of RSV, Flu And Covid As Hospitals Strain


By Lora Lavigne & Aaron Thomas

Doctors were prepared for a bad flu season but are worried about a multitude of viruses hitting children all at once.

RSV, a respiratory virus, is making young children, especially babies, very sick, and cases are on the rise in North Carolina.

That's on top of an already active flu season and the threat of COVID-19 as we head into the winter months.

The triple-threat of viruses is especially worrisome for parents concerned their children will get sick at daycare or school.

Doctors said they are seeing cases of RSV and flu skyrocket in area hospitals like WakeMed. They are hoping this uptick in cases doesn’t push the healthcare system to capacity.

"It’s definitely a worry," said one parent, Michelle Lion-Atkins. "It just feels like you can’t escape getting something."

Dr. David Weber from UNC Hospitals said people with RSV may show cold-like symptoms: fever, cough, fatigue and headache.

"We’re seeing substantially more children than we would expect at this time of the year hospitalized due to RSV, and we’ve seen a few cases of influenza hospitalized," said Weber.

Viruses like RSV and the flu can be life-threatening for some children.

"Young children have to be careful about seizures due to high fever, turning blue from not enough oxygen," said Weber. "Lethargy, not eating well."

WakeMed reports 246 patients battling influenza, up from 130 cases two weeks ago. As for RSV, there are 183 cases.

Pre-COVID data from previous years were about 80 cases a week.

Doctors at UNC Health report approximately 30 cases of influenza and approximately 200 RSV cases.

Jessica Dixon with WakeMed hospital urged families to do their part to prevent the spread of viruses.

"I do think we're going see these numbers continue to rise over the coming weeks and months," said Dixon. "Everything you can do to keep sick kids at home is really important to keep your child away from other kids that are sick."

Health experts said prevention measures are important, as there are currently no vaccines approved for protection against RSV.

Children 6 months and older can get their flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. The new booster, which targets the original coronavirus and the contagious omicron variant, is available for children five and older.


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