Health Care

Health officials raise fears of runny-nosed ‘triple-demic’

A sign outside the emergency department at Central Vermont Medical Center.
Photo courtesy UVM Health Network

by Avery Delisle, for Community News Service

As autumn leaves fall and temperatures drop, health officials and communities around Vermont are bracing for a heavy blow from seasonal illnesses — and worried about hospitals’ ability to hold firm if Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses spike all at once. 

When the air is colder, it damages the immune response occurring in the nose, Harvard Medical School and Northeastern University researchers found in a study last year, the first to offer a biological explanation for a well-observed dynamic. That, coupled with people being inside more often, means it is easier for Covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (also known as RSV) to spread, causing an influx of cases. 

With the three respiratory viruses circulating, the challenges could be more difficult than previous years. The fear of a “triple-demic,” or the spike of all three illnesses in a short span, is pushing health care officials to prepare for the strain the triple-threat could place on hospitals and health care facilities. 

Although they aren’t sure how the season will play out, John Davy, a health surveillance epidemiologist from the Vermont Department of Health, said it is all about timing. When exactly the three illnesses spread and peak can make a large difference, he said. 

“The most likely scenarios are all a heavier peak burden than we saw with the 2017 and 2018 influenza and RSV seasons, which really put a strain on our hospitals,” said Davy. 

Department officials hope to avoid any overlap of severe peaks, he said, and there is reason to believe they can do so. 

“I think in Vermont we have a lot of reason to feel hopeful because we do see the public very engaged in protecting themselves and each other …  There are reasons to be hopeful about what peak respiratory disease season will look like in Vermont,” Davy said.

State health leaders encourage people to take responsibility for their health and that of their communities by wearing masks in crowded or indoor settings, practicing good hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance from others when necessary. 

Davy also recommended talking to your physician to ensure you make the most informed decision for your health. 

All three illnesses share similar symptoms — including fever, cough and fatigue — making it difficult to distinguish between them. The best way to tell the difference? Getting tested. 

“If they are experiencing these symptoms, whether it be a fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, trouble breathing — or if you’re a high-risk individual due to age or other health conditions — it’s probably worth getting tested because there are treatments that can be given for Covid-19, for the flu, so folks can can find out with a test through their provider what they have,” Davy said.

Health experts urge the public to get vaccinated against all three viruses and to keep their vaccines up to date.

In September, the federal Food and Drug Administration approved another Covid vaccine that it says can more precisely target the variants circulating right now. 

Jessie Leyse, an infectious disease physician from Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, said that’s because the new vaccine is monovalent, meaning it contains only one strand of the virus, unlike previous vaccines, which contained two.

“The variant that is circulating is an Omicron sub-variant, and the updated vaccine is targeted more for that variant,” Leyse said. 

As with any vaccine, she said, it’s a game of matching. But so far, it seems a good fit for the strains circulating around Vermont and the greater U.S. 

Vaccines can only do so much, both Lyse and Davy said, but are key to preventing serious infection that could lead to hospitalization. 

“If you are exposed, it may prevent an infection. It also may just make the infection a lot milder and at the very least keep people out of the hospital,” said Davy.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a testing locator online to find testing sites nearby. The centers also have a program that provides no-cost Covid tests for those who are uninsured.

Categories: Health Care

11 replies »

  1. Yeah, you go ahead and get vaccinated. I’ll continue to rely on my immune system. My personal genetic jab side effects of just people I know is now one myocarditis, two with blood clots in their legs, one of which went to the lungs, and one dead.

    And jeezum crow, isn’t *that* news. Flu and colds spike in the fall and winter. And if you don’t take proper care of yourself, those could develop into (gasp!) *upper respiratory illnesses*. Why haven’t I heard of this before?

    How many people out there already compliantly wearing their *feed bags* do you think are aware that the common cold is a coronavirus? And have never heard the old saying “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t cure the common cold!”. Well, duh.. because it mutates from year to year. Same as *covid*. What a convenient boogey-man.

    I’m no doctor, but I’ve noticed large spikes in *covid* seem to occur every four years. Hmmm… now what else also occurs every four years? Oh, yeah. A certain individual runs for President.

    Pure coincidence, I’m sure.

  2. Constantly the tired drumbeat to wear masks and get vaccinated (both of which fell far short of efficacy claims), but not a word about diet, exercise, and immune boosting with proper supplements. Even after all that has come to be known about our botched Covid response, we get the same talking points. Ignorance or just plain incompetence?

  3. Here we go again. We are all going to get sick and die unless you comply. I had covid when it first came out, looking forward to another episode to strengthen my immune system. BTW I’m one that it’s supposed to kill. Old, fat, out of shape with blood pressure and some heart problems

  4. can they at least stop with the mask BS already??? THEY DO NOT WORK. “New research shows CDC exaggerated the evidence for masks to fight COVID
    The analysis found that wearing masks in public “probably makes little or no difference.”

  5. Fat, old people too proud to get vaccinated then dying of preventable diseases will never stop being funny

    • What a sick comment.

      I’ll never stop feeling sorry for those who live their life being told what to do and then laugh at others who know more than they do.

      • When I read that comment, I heard “kool-aide, kool aide tastes great, kool aide, kool aide can’t wait!” The current over and under is 5-10% of the population is lost for good – the WEF body count is lagging way behind, hence the Chicken Little climate change hysteria and new sheeple shots post haste!

  6. It’s all about perpetuating fear among the sheep.  The sheep will give up any freedom to hear these pseudo authorities tell them, phew thanks to the vaccine, you are now safe.  

  7. It’s going to be a bad year because people’s immune systems have been wrecked.

  8. Do Not cave into the Fear that is being pushed by the Hospitals, Doctors, Government, they are all in-bed together with the Evil Cabal.  Do Not take the death shot or any other mRNA shots. By the way, they are making all shots to be mRNA shots in the near future, if not done already. Every Fall Season comes allergy season, your nose will run, scratchy throat, watery eyes, sneezing. Keep your Vitamin C and D3 levels up, get fresh air, get sunshine, stay away from processed foods, stay away from bad oils (Sunflower, Safflower, Crisco, Hydrogenated, etc.) Use Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Butter, Lard, stay away from GMO and Bio-engineered Foods – Read the Labels. Eat nutritious foods, cook for yourself as much as you can. Support your Local Farmers! And Above All, No Fear in the Lord God Almighty! John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.