As flu hits Va. hard and Dan River Region in COVID-19 surge, potential increases for so-called ‘tridemic’ – GoDanRiver.com

A surge in the RSV cases in the US which can be fatal is causing severe strain on the healthcare system

For the last two winters, COVID-19 ended up being the main worry for health systems across the commonwealth.

And while another uptick is expected — the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District is currently in a surge, the only Virginia locality in such a designation — others signs point to a potential tridemic this season.

In addition to COVID-19, the flu is already hitting the commonwealth hard, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even early in the season, Virginia is pegged in the highest level for active cases.

In fact, it’s been 13 years since flu has had such a severe impact this early, according to a Friday report from the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute.

Flu

Virginia is experiencing a high level of flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reason can be sourced to a few factors. First, the lack of flu activity from the last two years means fewer people have immunity, meaning a larger part of the population may have no shields against it.

People are also reading…

“Public health restrictions, along with behavioral changes such as masking and social distancing, are effective against a variety of respiratory diseases, including flu and COVID-19,” UVa researchers wrote in Friday’s report. “In the first year of the pandemic, flu virtually disappeared, while last year’s season was very mild.”

For both years, a so-called twindemic was feared — meaning COVID-19 and flu cases stressing health care facilities — but never came to pass.

This year, Virginia may not be so lucky.

“Lack of exposure over the past two years may create an immunity deficit which in turn may lead to a particularly bad flu season,” UVa officials said. “Indeed, that may already be happening this season.”

Low vaccination rates also are factor. As of late last month, only about 18% of Virginia residents had received an annual flu shot, UVa reported. Breaking down those figures, only 40% of seniors and 19% of children from 6 months old to 4 years of age were vaccinated against the flu, two of the age groups most impacted by severe effects. 

Also, there’s been a lackluster response to the COVID-19 booster shot, even with a somewhat strong start, according to UVa. Both flu and COVID-19 immunization levels lag well behind rates from 2021.

The third illness in the tridemic is respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, which is surging throughout the nation and state.

“Mercifully, COVID-19 largely spared children from its worst affect, with most severe disease and death occurring among seniors,” researchers wrote in Friday’s UVa report. “By contrast, flu and RSV are most severe in both the very young and the very old.”

Some spikes in flu and RSV are causing stress for pediatric health centers in some areas.

Trajectory

The Pittsylvania-Danville Health District is the only area currently experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases, according to the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute.

As far as COVID-19, more than half of the health districts in Virginia area are experiencing increases in cases. Danville and Pittsylvania County are the only areas in what’s defined as a surge, meaning cases have doubled based on a 100,000 population scale.

However, the city and county are still in the lowest community level for COVID-19, according to the CDC. Neighboring Halifax County is listed in medium, meaning people at high-risk for illnesses are recommended to wear masks in public spaces.

Levels

Danville and Pittsylvania County are in the lowest community levels for COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than four-quarters of the nation remains in a low risk level for COVID-19.

“With three serious respiratory viruses spreading in Virginia, it is important we all do our part to stop the spread,” UVa scientists said. “Practice basic respiratory hygiene and get vaccinated when eligible.”