Tripledemic threat

Melody Tian and Shreya Vijay

With traveling and socializing back in full swing, the New York Times states an expected winter rise in COVID cases is predicted to collide with a resurgent flu season as well as a third pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

The simultaneous occurrence of these three viruses has now come to be known as the “tripledemic.”

While flu has long been circulating and the past two years have seen the emergence and rapid progression of COVID, RSV is a lesser-known virus.

According to UC Davis Health, RSV is an upper respiratory infection that primarily spreads via respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. Groups at higher risk are young children, children born prematurely or born with other congenital conditions, and the elderly.

Hospitals in America have already reached full capacity thanks to the tripledemic, particularly in the children’s wards. A nurse in New Mexico reported in a recent article from KOB 4 News that her hospital was operating at 119% of pediatric licensed capacity, as it was treating children with all three viruses. A study from Vaccines Work suggests that the number of cases could be higher due to the indirect consequences of the COVID lockdown.

Sleep, exercise and stress are among the factors that could contribute to a lowered immune system. However, Hockaday Nurse Jill Dorman believes the lockdown itself did not impact the growing number of flu and RSV cases.

“I don’t think the physiology that people’s immune systems have weakened over COVID is correct at all,” Dorman said. “I think COVID just made us more aware that there have always been viruses that we don’t know how to treat such as the common cold.”

Dorman said another example would be the SARS flu since scientists have not yet gained enough knowledge to know how or why people are affected by it. Though they are separate viruses, there is a simple step that could help prevent all of them.

“I know it sounds so simple and silly, but the best advice I can really say works is washing your hands,” Dorman said.

Overall, since the world today is more congregated than ever and people go to all kinds of places at all times of the day, Dorman said the most important thing to keep in mind is taking care of one’s body.

“I find that at Hockaday it’s hard sometimes for the girls to get a good night’s sleep because they feel so much pressure or they have so much work to do,” Dorman said. “So I think good self-care is one way to keep yourself strong and just really do what you would think is healthy.”