COVID, flu, colds and RSV: Can more than one hit you at once? : Shots


With COVID, flu and chilly viruses spreading broadly this winter, researchers appeared into whether or not you may get contaminated with a couple of directly.

Nathan Howard/AP

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Nathan Howard/AP

With COVID, flu and chilly viruses spreading broadly this winter, researchers appeared into whether or not you may get contaminated with a couple of directly.

Nathan Howard/AP

Should you’re like most Individuals, somebody in your loved ones or social circle is sick proper now with COVID, flu, a chilly or RSV. With the rolling waves of illness hitting many households, some persons are questioning: May I’ve caught a couple of of those germs on the similar time?

The reply is: Sure, it could occur. There’s loads of proof of individuals testing optimistic for, say, COVID and the flu or flu and RSV concurrently.

“Completely, you’ll be able to catch a couple of virus on the similar time,” says Dr. Tina Tan, a pediatric infectious illness specialist at Northwestern College.

“We have had youngsters which have truly had three completely different viruses. A few of them are available with RSV. They’ve additionally had influenza and enterovirus. There have been different youngsters who’ve introduced with COVID and influenza.”

The danger for a number of infections is particularly excessive this yr as a result of so many viruses have been surging collectively.

“It is form of excellent storm for co-infections,” Tan says.

It is unclear simply how typically this occurs as a result of many of the testing for this form of factor is completed on hospitalized sufferers, who in all probability aren’t consultant of most people. However some research have discovered co-infections in as much as 20% of these sufferers.

The danger, nevertheless, does not seem like the identical for everybody. Kids seem like much more prone to get a couple of bug on prime of the opposite, particularly very younger youngsters, researchers say.

“About 20% of infants lower than six months of age hospitalized with the flu have had co-infection with RSV,” says Dr. Shikha Garg, a medical epidemiologist on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. That quantity drops to about 13% of children six months to 2 years previous and fewer than 5% for five years and up.

The explanation youngsters are extra liable to co-infections is unclear, however there are theories.

“It could possibly be simply because they’re always being uncovered to respiratory infections,” says Amanda Jamieson, who research viruses at Brown College. “But it surely is also that they are immune methods simply have not constructed up the immunity that older individuals have.”

That mentioned, co-infections can happen at any age, particularly amongst older individuals and others with weaker immune methods.

On the similar time, there’s rising proof that co-infections might be extra severe then simply getting sick with one virus at a time. Actually, a brand new CDC research launched Wednesday finds that is the case.

The research, which was printed within the journal Pediatrics, involving greater than 4,000 hospitalized youngsters discovered those that had COVID plus one other virus, comparable to a chilly virus, have been considerably extra prone to require oxygen to assist them breathe and to finish up requiring intensive care.

“We discovered that youngsters below 5 had about twice the chances of getting extreme sickness after they had a [<co-infection] in comparison with after they simply SARS-CoV2 an infection,” says Dr. Nickolas Agathis, a pediatrician and a medical officer with the CDC who led the research. “The youngsters below two who had RSV have been twice as prone to have extreme sickness in comparison with youngsters who simply had COVID and never RSV additionally.”

The outcomes underscore the significance of testing sufferers hospitalized with respiratory infections to verify they’re getting the correct therapy, Agathis says.

The explanation why co-infections can be extra extreme that is not fully clear, nevertheless it could possibly be as a result of a number of infections trigger extra irritation and since completely different respiratory viruses injury the lungs in numerous methods.

“It is virtually as if you are getting punched greater than as soon as, and that may make you sicker,” says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious illness specialist at Vanderbilt College.

The perfect factor individuals can do to scale back the chance is all of the issues individuals have been doing the previous couple of years to guard themselves from an infection throughout the pandemic: Get vaccinated, in opposition to each COVID and the flu; wash your arms quite a bit; and put on a masks in crowded, poorly ventilated locations and round sick individuals.

“Getting vaccinated with influenza and SARS-CoV2 vaccines and staying updated on that’s essential for safeguarding youngsters in addition to group and members of the family,” says Dr. Fiona Havers, a medical epidemiologist on the CDC. “Staying house once you’re sick is essential.”