As respiratory viruses continue to spread, the “triple epidemic” is causing infections to rise across the country and straining the nation’s health workers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning Americans that the high level of multiple respiratory illnesses could persist for some time.
“We anticipate that elevated levels of respiratory virus activity may continue for several more weeks, or even months,” a CDC spokesperson warned, according to Fox 5 DC.
In a telecast at the beginning of the month, the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the levels of flu-like illness were higher than generally seen this time of year, although she noted there were signs that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) had reached the maximum in some areas.
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“While this is encouraging, respiratory viruses continue to spread at high levels across the country,” he said. “And, even in areas where RSV may be declining, our hospital systems continue to be stressed by large numbers of patients with other respiratory illnesses.”
Walensky encouraged people to take preventive measures, wear masks and get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19.
Many of the circulating viruses have similar symptoms, and the CDC emphasized the importance of testing to determine treatment.
RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, with older adults and infants and young children at higher risk, according to the CDC. However, fever is also on the list.
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The agency said the flu can cause mild to severe illness and can sometimes lead to death. Flu symptoms include fever and nasal congestion. Flu season started early this year.
COVID-19 has similar symptoms, such as fever and sore throat or cough, with older adults and people with underlying medical conditions at greater risk of serious illness.
“You cannot tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19 by symptoms alone because some of the symptoms are the same,” the CDC says on its website.
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This sick viral cocktail has left healthcare workers scrambling. Hospitals in states across the country have reported surges in patients and some officials have issued emergency orders.