As the cool weather arrives, respiratory diseases are on the rise!
The 2022-2023 influenza season recently began Oct. 2, but we’re already seeing a higher rate of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity than usual. So far, three times more influenza and 4.5 times more RSV cases have been reported when compared to the five-season average for this week. In addition to these more traditional respiratory viruses circulating, COVID-19 and the Common cold-causing viruses such as rhinovirus and enterovirus are circulating.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these respiratory viruses circulated at much lower levels than we had previously seen. This was in part due to the wearing of masks, spatial separation and improved hand hygiene – all measures that were implemented to reduce exposure to viruses. However, it appears these seasonal respiratory viruses are bouncing back this year.
So, what can you and your family do to better protect yourselves from these cold and flu viruses?
One of the best ways is getting your annual influenza vaccine and staying up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines. The influenza vaccine is the best way to protect you, your family, and your community against influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people 6 months or older receive the flu shot as soon as possible. If you’re over the age of 65, this year there is a new recommendation to get the higher-dose flu vaccine, which provides even stronger protection.
In addition to vaccinations, these steps can protect against respiratory viruses:
1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Or use the waterless hand rubs)
2. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
4. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, elbow, or shirt sleeve.
5. As always, please stay home if you are feeling sick to help protect others from becoming infected.