San Diego’s public health officials Friday sounded the alarm about another respiratory illness on the rise in the county, joining influenza and COVID-19 and possibly having a severe impact on people’s lives and the county’s medical resources this fall and winter.
The county’s Health and Human Services Agency and local health providers are seeing an early spike in flu and respiratory syncytial virus cases and while COVID-19 cases are currently trending down in the region, all three could tax the region’s hospitals.
“As we see a sharp increase of flu and RSV cases, I am urging San Diegans to do their part to prevent the spread of illnesses,” said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer. “While there’s no vaccine for RSV, ample vaccinations are available for the flu and COVID-19. These vaccines take two weeks to become fully effective, so people should get both shots as soon as possible.”
RSV is a respiratory virus that the county has detected in previous cold and flu seasons, but usually doesn’t spike at the same time as flu. It can cause significant respiratory problems, especially in young children. Symptoms of RSV include cough, runny nose and fever. Treatment consists of managing symptoms and, in severe cases, hospitalization.
According to the HHSA, RSV is currently inundating local pediatric care providers. Rady Children’s Hospital earlier this week notified families that wait times for care in their emergency room are a lot longer than usual.
Vaccines for the flu and COVID-19, including the new bivalent boosters, are available through health care providers, pharmacies, clinics and the county.
“COVID-19 and flu vaccines are safe and effective at preventing the most severe disease,” Wooten said. “While the flu vaccine does not protect people against COVID and vice versa, it is possible to get both shots during the same visit.”
More than 2.69 million or 80.5% of eligible San Diegans have received the primary series of one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. A total of 1,485,987 or 60.2% of 2,469,569 eligible San Diegans have received vaccine boosters for COVID.
The region’s cumulative total of infections increased by 1,569 over the past week to 929,549. Deaths increased by seven to 5,524.
The number of people in San Diego County hospitalized with COVID-19 has decreased by 53 to 122, according to the latest state data.
The number of those patients being treated in intensive care as of Saturday increased by two to 23. There were 239 ICU beds available in the county, an increase of eight from Thursday.
— City News Service