Respiratory illnesses are making a comeback after lockdown measures, wearing masks, and social distancing made people far less likely to get sick from colds and the common flu.
According to Wired, bugs called rhinoviruses are back as schools and daycare centers reopen. Catherine Moore, a virologist from Wales, said, “This is exactly what we’d expert during a normal back-to-school season.”
Because the symptoms of a cold and COVID-19 are similar, the healthcare system could become overwhelmed by the double whammy. Since COVID-19 testing resources are still experiencing shortages and long delays around the world, health department officials in Britain are already pleading with parents to stop bringing in children with mild symptoms to be tested.
Runny noses are most likely to be a symptom of the common cold, says Moore, while a high fever is not. While cold season has not hit the same highs in the United States as it has elsewhere in the world, experts say we are seeing an uptick in the number of incidents. According to Wired, data from the Seattle Flu Study shows cases of rhinoviruses have been rising since August.
“This is paramount for all of us,” said Steven Pergam, associate professor of infectious diseases at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, according to Wired. “Testing labs have been so focused on COVID that we’re trying to shift the focus to identifying when other respiratory viruses are in our communities. It’s going to put a lot more pressure.”
Pergam said that with the number of coronavirus cases still high and testing resources strained, it is the perfect storm for any pathogen including the rhinovirus and flu virus to flourish. That is one more reason, according to The Seattle Times, getting the flu vaccine this year is crucial as all forces collide.
“I’m worried about the whole kit and caboodle and how confusing it might be,” said Dr. John Lynch, a board certified physician and medical director of infection control at the University of Washington's Harborview Medical Center. “That’s why getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever — not only to keep you and your family and the community safe from flu, but also to keep people with these other COVID-like illnesses out of doctor’s offices and emergency departments.”
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