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Triple threat: Doctors worried about rising flu, RSV, and COVID-19 cases

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ALABAMA (WHNT) — Alabama health officials say they are concerned about what they call a “triple threat” — an increase in cases of COVID-19, influenza and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus.

All three illnesses could well get worse in the coming months.

While high numbers of cases typically start spreading in late fall, the United States has seen early surges, particularly among children this year, and that’s straining some hospitals.

The flu season has already started unexpectedly.

An elementary school and the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office were closed. School officials in Lincoln County in Tennessee announced that schools and offices were closed. Children’s hospitals in many states are reportedly at or near capacity.

“It’s a bit earlier than usual and there seems to be a higher number of cases for this time of year and that’s concerning,” said Dr Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious disease expert at the UAB Hospital.

Doctors are now worried about the strain these rising cases are placing on hospitals. In September alone, hundreds of RSV positive cases in children were recorded. Dr. Claudette Poole of UAB Children’s Hospital says she expects cases could triple before Thanksgiving.

“We expect some sort of increase in hospitalizations for influenza as well as RSV this season compared to the previous two years,” Poole explained. “This is especially true for Children’s Hospital, but how long this will last, only time will tell.”

RSV, like the flu, has the symptoms of a cold: runny nose, coughing and sneezing. Doctors are seeing an increase similar to previous fall seasons and expect a further increase in cases in the coming months.

Marrazzo urges everyone to be prepared for a flurry of hospital and doctor visits and the possibility of further closures.

“When you look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) US flu surveillance map, we are in a very hot zone right now,” she said. “Georgia and Texas a little higher than Alabama, but I think we’re catching up quickly. There are variations nationwide in the number of flu cases, but I think that’s not is only a matter of time before other places catch up with us.

Currently, there is no vaccine to treat RSV, but doctors say getting the flu shot makes a big difference to being very sick with multiple symptoms.

Doctors report that COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending down, but the threat still exists.

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