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'Tripledemic' Concerns Grow As Surge In Flu Activity Strikes Amid Ongoing RSV, COVID-19 Cases

A look at nationwide flu activity levels in the CDC's Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report.
A look at nationwide flu activity levels in the CDC's Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report. Photo Credit: CDC

Concerns of a so-called "Tripledemic" are growing amid the most widespread flu activity nationwide at this point in the season in over a decade while respiratory illnesses, particularly among children, are straining hospitals as COVID-19 is still an ongoing issue. 

"There’s no scientific definition for this term," according to Yale Medicine. "It simply refers to a collision of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), flu, and COVID-19 to the extent that it might overwhelm hospital emergency departments."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations, and 2,100 deaths from the flu.

Both New York and Connecticut are among 25 states ranking either "high" or "very high" in flu activity. Both NY and CT are in the "high" category.

The CDC said that the cumulative flu hospitalization rate is higher than the rate observed in week 45 during every previous season since 2010-2011.

Meanwhile, hospitals are struggling to keep up with unprecedented amounts of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases combined with the surge in flu cases.

“What we are seeing is record levels of RSV in young children," Dr. Scott Roberts, a Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist said in Yale Medicine. "Usually, we see a spike in December or January, but it’s earlier this year.

“COVID is still the most prevalent virus in the community, but it’s on a downward trajectory, while RSV and flu are increasing.”

An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu, said the CDC. Vaccination helps prevent infection and can also prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick with the flu.

CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine annually. 

For more on the 2022-23 flu season from the CDC, click here.

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