NEVADA – The “Tripledemic,” a slew of infections that includes COVID, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus, is sweeping through California and showing no compassion to Nevada County.
“(Tripledemic) sounds like a good term, but when you look at the facts, it’s not so cool,” said Dr. Tyler Hill, Chief Medical Officer at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. “It’s a continual drain on the United States and California in particular. The truth is that the pandemic’s impacts are still being felt.”
Dr. Hill went on to note that the novelty of the illnesses currently going around is that they were all but missing the prior two years as the world battled the COVID virus.
“Prior to COVID, some of the major culprits we saw were influenza and RSV,” Hill explained. “RSV is a respiratory virus that mainly affects very young children, ranging in age from a few months to a few years. We witnessed a dramatic increase in RSV during the last two months, which was the start of the Tripledemic.
“RSV really kicked off this surge nationwide and we saw it overrun the pediatric hospitals across the country. And what that does for a more rural area is that it creates a challenge where if we have a pediatric patient come here who needs to be hospitalized in a pediatric facility it creates the issue of trying to get them there when the facility is already overwhelmed and then they have to stay here for a while.”
Sierra Nevada prepared an RSV Surge Plan ahead of time, according to Hill. Hospital employees, he said, witnessed a wave of disease impacting the state, bringing them together to strategically plan and be prepared in the event that RSV patients had to be hospitalized there. He stated that though they have observed a drop in RSV cases in recent weeks, pediatric hospitals throughout the region are fighting to keep up.
“We haven’t seen a lot of influenza since 2019,” Hill added. “And actually with masking, with social distancing, with individuals not at school or work as frequently, and people not congregating as much we found a decline in influenza infections.
“However, in 2022, influenza has struck strong. It has had a significant impact on the entire country. We saw Southern California fast get overrun, with hospitals well above capacity, and we saw it go north to even this area. After Thanksgiving, Nevada County and our hospital were severely damaged. It’s mostly influenza-A, and the strain is H3N2, so the majority of what our (emergency department) is seeing right now is a lot of influenza, which is outnumbering the number of COVID patients that are coming in.
“This year, there have been fewer people who have received the influenza vaccine. We’ve seen how that affects a lot of individuals.”
According to the doctor, the purpose of the flu vaccine is not so much to avoid the flu as it is to reduce the intensity of the sickness and keep patients out of the hospital. He also stated that many people appear to be “over” vaccinations after being bombarded with them for the past few years. This is a problem for medical practitioners.
“We do have hospitalizations as a result of influenza, including renal complications, pneumonia, diarrhea, and dehydration. Those who are frequently the most vulnerable will often become quite unwell as a result. We’ve had up to ten influenza patients admitted to the hospital, typically after the Thanksgiving holiday. Because of this and COVID, over half of our medical beds were designated as isolation cases. This makes it extremely difficult for a variety of reasons.”
Credits: The Union
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