HOUSTON - Some are calling it a "tri-demic" as the flu, RSV, and COVID-19 are delivering quite a blow, particularly to kids. So how is Houston fairing heading into this respiratory illness season?
"We’re definitely seeing very high and very early flu activity. Currently, we’re seeing the numbers we would typically see in December or January when it’s our peak flu season," explains UTHealth Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Luis Ostrosky.
There has been an increase in kids being hospitalized with RSV, as well. The Hutchison family in Houston had to find out about Respiratory Syncytial Virus the hard way when their 6-month-old DeAndre’ "DJ" Hutchison Jr. was diagnosed.
"It was just a very, very scary time for us, because he went from literally having trouble breathing at home, and then he was in the ICU within five to six hours. Then after that he was on a ventilator," DeAndre’ Hutchison Sr. explains.
According to the Houston Health Department, there is an increase in kids in the ER with flu-like symptoms. According to the Texas Hospital Association, 88% of pediatric hospital beds in Texas are occupied.
"We heard about the first two mortalities related to flu in children this month. So we’re definitely watching the flu situation very carefully. We’re starting to hear about outbreaks in schools and other facilities," Dr. Ostrosky adds.
Fort Bend Christian Academy’s High School in Sugar Land did not have school Friday. That's after a number of kids showed symptoms of being sick. FOX 26 was told school was called off as a precaution. Dr. Ostrosky says being safe is a good idea.
"While we are not having a crisis right now, things could be headed toward a crisis if we don’t act right now," Dr. Ostrosky is suggesting to get kids a flu shot and the COVID booster.
And as far as RSV, "What the doctors told us, it’s the exact same things we were already doing to protect against COVID, social distancing, washing your hands, keeping him away from anybody coughing or sneezing," Hutchison explains.
"I know everybody is tired of masking and everybody wants to be out and about without a mask. But at this point, I think being a little bit strategic about masking when you’re going to be indoors with a lot of people would make a lot of sense. If you’re going to be in very crowded indoor settings, it’s probably a good idea to be wearing a mask," says Dr. Ostrosky and he adds if you or your kids are sick it’s beneficial for you and those in your home to get tested to find out what you have.
"At least for COVID and for flu, we have treatments and those treatments need to be given in the first 48 hours, or they don’t work, so getting diagnosed is very important. Any respiratory illness and fevers that last more than 24 hours should really prompt you to think this is not just the common cold," and Dr. Ostrosky suggests getting tested.