RSV, flu and COVID: With new brew of viruses, doctors warn of reinfections and triple infections

"Those are the big three that we're really worried about this winter," said a doctor in Long Beach.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2022
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The confluence of RSV, flu and the ever present COVID-19 spells trouble for young children.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Scientists are getting closer to developing a vaccine for the respiratory illness known as RSV, but it's likely going to take a year before we could see it.

Right now, doctors are dealing with a surge in respiratory illnesses.

"Certainly, we've seen an increase in our flu and respiratory syncytial virus, RSV numbers over the past several weeks," said Dr. Graham Tse, the Chief Medical Officer at MemorialCare Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach.

READ ALSO | OC declares health emergency due to viral infections causing rise in pediatric hospitalizations

Pediatric beds are filling up fast and emergency room visits for influenza-like illnesses are up.

Tse said RSV got an early start and the flu is on its heels.

"We have more flu, currently, locally, and nationally, than we've had in the last five years," said Tse. "So we may see a considerable early and quite significant surge."

The confluence of RSV, flu and the ever present COVID-19 spells trouble for young children.

Not only can these viruses strike one after the other, doctors say reinfections are not uncommon.

"Those are the big three that we're really worried about this winter. We wouldn't want to see any child with all three or more at the same time," he said.

Besides getting the whole family flu shots and the latest COVID booster for eligible kids, Tse said everything we've learned during the pandemic will help slow the spread.

"Don't let your guard down. We want you to wash your hands, wear masks where appropriate when you're in close quarters with others and socially distance when you can," said Tse.

READ ALSO | RSV in children: Symptoms, treatment and what parents should know

Before you bring your child to a busy emergency room, doctors say to look for signs of respiratory distress.

Is your child using their bellies to breathe? Are their lips blue? Call your pediatrician for advice.

As for COVID, Tse said Europe is already seeing increased numbers and the U.S. tends to follow.

"Stay safe out there. It's going to be an interesting winter," he said.