Tripledemic causes strain on Northern Nevada hospitals

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 11:13 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - RSV, COVID, and the Flu are causing strain Northern Nevada hospitals.

All three are respiratory illnesses and share similar symptoms with a few differences. COVID is unique in that patients have reported losing their sense of taste or smell. With the Flu, patients often have a fever or body aches. RSV tends to be found in younger children and older adults. Treatment among the three also differs.

“We don’t have a specific medication to treat RSV,” said Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Medical Director at St. Mary’s and Carbon Health. “So of course we have some medications that help somewhat with the respiratory challenges and some of the symptoms associated. Versus the flu, where we actually have an antiviral medication. For COVID, we now have antiviral medications that help.”

She recommends getting tested regardless of which symptoms you’re experiencing.

“We all respond to illness in different ways, as well as if you have underlying health conditions, that can also change in how you’re able to respond to an illness. So it’s really important to get checked out just in case.”

There have now been more than 1,000 cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) reported in Washoe County since October of this year, according to the Washoe County Health District (WCHD). In a release sent out Wednesday morning, district officials say 263 new cases have been reported from November 27 to December 3. That’s highest weekly total so far this season. The health district says we are on track to pass the total number of RSV cases in 2021, which was 1,043.

The Nevada Hospital Association (NHA) reported that pediatric hospital bed availability remains at or near 100 percent capacity in Nevada. RSV hospitalizations make up about 20 percent of pediatric hospitalizations statewide, NHA said.

You’re asked to call 911 immediately if your child is experiencing severe respiratory symptoms including difficulty breathing, poor feeding, lethargy, dehydration or apnea.

RSV Prevention: According to the CDC, no RSV vaccine is available although researchers are working to develop it. In the meantime, there are a few tips to help decrease the chances of children and older adults getting RSV, per the CDC.

  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching faces with unwashed hands
  • If you have symptoms of RSV, stay home from school or work
  • Limit the time spent in childcare centers or other potentially contagious settings during periods of high RSV activity. This may help prevent infection and spread of the virus during the RSV season

For more information on RSV, visit the Washoe County Health District site here.