GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – You may have heard the term “tri-demic” recently. It’s what some doctors are using to describe the triple threat we’re now facing with three contagious viruses circulating right when people are planning to gather for the holidays.
It’s definitely got the makings of a perfect storm. RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) cases are on the rise as we near the heart of flu season, amid an ongoing COVID pandemic. Add to all of that, the first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays when many will feel comfortable getting together again since the COVID quarantine.
Local 5 talked to a local pediatrician about the best way to keep our families safe.
“The first thing is, if you’re sick, please stay home,” said Dr. Donald Beno, Aurora BayCare Medical Center pediatrician.
Beno says the early arrival of the RSV virus this year combined with flu season and COVID can be a confusing and scary time for parents.
“All the symptoms of all these illnesses are the same,” Beno pointed out. “Runny nose, stuffy nose, cough.”
In fact, Beno says last week every PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) bed in the entire state of Wisconsin was full; and it’s not just children who can get RSV.
“We have adults in our ICU with RSV,” Beno said.
Making it more important than ever to do what we already know how to do to stop the spread of viruses.
Because the RSV virus can live on surfaces for a long time, Beno says we need to be extra vigilant when out in public.
“Children in grocery carts are a very common way of spreading illness,” Beno explained. “The little wipes you see near the carts. Please use them. Another child who was sick could have been in that cart hours before and RSV germs would still be there.”
So, what do you do if you or your child does come down with a bug? Beno says the most urgent symptom to watch for is trouble breathing.
“Huffing and puffing and looking like we’re trying to blow the house down,” Beno explained. “Those children need to be seen emergently, in your closest ER.”
Beno points out, however, just because your child may get RSV, doesn’t necessarily mean they will have a severe illness, just like everyone who gets COVID doesn’t end up in the hospital.
“RSV is the number one viral cold of childhood and it is a very common one,” Beno said.
While there’s currently no vaccine for RSV, Beno says what we can do is protect ourselves with the vaccines we do have.
“We can prevent flu,” Beno said. “Of course, the COVID vaccine also can prevent severe illness and prevent us from spreading it to others.”
If your child does get sick, here are Beno’s recommendations for relieving congestion until the virus has run its course:
- Blow their nose or use a suction device to remove secretions
- Shower steam is one of the best ways to loosen things up. Let the shower steam do its work at bedtime, so your child can cough out excess mucus before sleeping.
- Use a vaporizer at night time with plain water, hot or cold
- Do not use anything with menthol – in a vaporizer, bath bombs, cough drops, vapor rubs etc…
“They make you worse not better,” Beno explained.
With the holidays coming up, Beno reminds us that as much as your family loves you and wants to see you, it’s better to miss a family gathering than put your family at risk.
“Please, if you’re sick, stay home,” Beno implored. “Don’t bring it to Grandma or Grandpa. Don’t give it to your niece or nephew or granddaughter.”