TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Doctors are worried about a “tripledemic” as the flu, RSV, and COVID cases are all on the rise.
Doctors say there’s a significant increase in RSV in Tampa Bay hospitals compared to this time last year. Data shows the virus is currently at an 18% infection rate. St. Josephs Children’s Hospital said the RSV season usually starts after infection rates hit 3% for more than two weeks.
“That is a significant increase and is much higher this time of the year compared to previous years at this similar time,” said Dr. John Prpich, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Pulmonologist. “This is resulting in a significant increase in hospitalizations as well as sick kids in the PICU with RSV bronchitis.”
While the common respiratory virus, RSV, is increasing across the country, doctors said so are a handful of other viruses.
“They’re like five or six other viruses going on right now and they often have overlapping symptoms meaning making present with the same symptoms and you can’t tell which virus they have,” said Juan Dumois, pediatric infectious disease physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
The hospital currently has nine RSV patients.
“We’re now walking into the flu season a little bit earlier than usual and the flu is much more likely to put a kid in the hospital than RSV,” said Dumois.
The Florida Department of Health said we are in RSV season, which correlates with flu season.
The Department said RSV is not a reportable disease. However, there is a federal database called ‘Essence’ that allows healthcare facilities to opt-in to the program and report data, but they are not required. Based on that limited data, FDOH said it’s seeing an uptick in RSV cases, which the department said is predictable because it happens on a yearly basis.
While patients with RSV are filling children’s hospitals in other states, Dr. Dumois says there are two things parents should consider:
“Is your child sick enough that you were worried?” he said.
Then you should call the pediatrician’s office. There are also warning signs that should warrant an immediate visit to the emergency room.
“If your skin around your child’s lips if the lips themselves are turning bluish-gray that’s a sign of lower levels of oxygen,” said Dr. Dumois.
As these viruses continue to spread, it’s important to continue to wash your hands. Don’t touch your face and stay home when you’re sick.
Remember flu season is quickly approaching, so doctors are recommending getting the flu shot to protect yourself and your kids.