RSV cases on the rise in Illinois as officials warn of possible ‘tripledemic'

As temperatures cool and more Illinois residents turn to indoor activities, officials say they are already beginning to see increases in RSV activity in the state.

Those officials also warn that corresponding increases in COVID-19 and flu cases could potentially follow, leading to chances of a “tripledemic” that could tax medical care systems.

“We are beginning to see an increase in RSV activity, which will likely be followed by flu and COVID-19 over the coming weeks and months,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement. “Protecting yourself and your loved ones now will ensure protection throughout the fall and winter respiratory virus season.”

Newly-formulated COVID-19 vaccines are now available in the U.S., as are seasonal versions of RSV and flu vaccines.

Specifically, RSV vaccines are recommended for individuals who are 60 years of age or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women between weeks 32 and 36 of their pregnancy.

Finally, for children who contract RSV, a monoclonal antibody shot called nirsevimab is being recommended for infants under eight months and toddlers at high risk for serious side effects from the virus. Studies cited by the IDPH show a reduction in hospitalizations of up to 77% for those who are given the treatment.

Symptoms of RSV typically appear within 4-to-6 days after infection, according to the CDC. Those symptoms can include runny nose, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, fever and decrease in appetite.

Infants typically experience different symptoms, including irritability, decreased activity and breathing difficulties. Symptoms appear in stages, rather than all at once.

CDC data from the last year in Illinois shows that respiratory illnesses skyrocketed in mid-to-late October and peaked on Nov. 19 in terms of emergency room visits, with a slow decline through the end of January and then tapered off through the remainder of the spring.

While overall emergency room visits have been on a slow decline since late August, RSV and influenza visits are slowly beginning to tick upward, according to CDC data.

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