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Is the 'tridemic' or 'tripledemic' still happening in Virginia?

Posted at 7:55 AM, Dec 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-30 18:39:01-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Health officials are encouraging Virginians to follow safety tips and get vaccinated in the midst of the holiday gathering season.

“I know that people have heard them many times before, but they really do work,” said Dr. Brooke Rossheim, a public health physician specialist with the Virginia Department of Health. “They may prevent people from getting sick.”

Rossheim said the “tripledemic” moniker of the last few months does not really hold up anymore as emergency room and urgent care visits for cases of respiratory syncytial virus — or RSV — have dropped.

“At the beginning of the flu season, RSV had a big spike in cases. And then since that time, RSV has really come back down to its usual baseline,” said Rossheim.

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RSV had a big spike in cases in October. (December 30, 2022)

He added there is no definitive answer for why such a big spike, but one hypothesis is the virus is making up for the last few seasons when more people were isolating and quarantining. “So, basically, this sharp spike is like catching up for the last couple of years, where children were not out and about, where they would get RSV from other kids.”

As for the flu, Rossheim said it started about a month early this season and is trending down, but is still very active in Virginia.

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Flu cases are starting to trend down for the 2022-23 season. (December 30, 2022)

“We seem to be on the downhill side. But there's no...guarantee that it will keep going down,” said Rossheim, noting previous years saw multiple surges.

He added COVID, in the meantime, is trending in the other direction similar to the rest of the country, with a slight increase in daily cases now around 2,000 for the seven-day average.

Rossheim said that is not unexpected and could likely continue to rise for a few weeks as people gather for the holidays.

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COVID daily cases now around 2,000 for the seven-day average. (December 30, 2022)

“You're creating a situation where you're making it a little bit easier for viruses to be transmitted from person to person,” he said, which is why the department is asking people to follow tips like frequent hand washing, coughing/sneezing into your arm and getting vaccinated.

“A vaccine provides…the best defense that we have. Because that way your own body develops immunity to the pathogen — whether we're talking about the COVID virus, whether we're talking about influenza.”

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