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Tridemic? Minnesota doctors worry about flu season on top of pandemic

RSV surge has Minnesota doctors worried about respiratory illnesses


September 28, 2021

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Meredith Legree of Lakeville held her frightened son Andrew, 3, as respiratory therapist Sirena Ortega held a mask to his face for a nebulizer treatment to help decrease inflammation in his airway and allow him to breathe easier as they waited for the results of his RSV test last week at Children's Hospital of St. Paul.

A peak in the latest COVID-19 wave could come next month, as some models have predicted, but Minnesota hospital leaders are preparing for a winter in which the lingering pandemic combines with other respiratory viruses to spawn a miserable flu season.

Minnesota was spared a much-hyped "twindemic" of COVID-19 and influenza last winter because of mask-wearing and closure orders that limited person-to-person contact, but an unprecedented summer surge of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, shows what can happen without those protections, said Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

"I'm not going to talk about a twindemic. I'm going to talk about a tridemic or a quaddemic," he said. "We've already seen evidence of it. We already have cases of influenza in Minnesota. We've already seen evidence of an RSV epidemic. The pandemic, at least right now, isn't going anywhere. It's going to continue to find susceptibles who are either unvaccinated or whose immunity wanes with time."


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