World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently declared that the ‘end the COVID-19’ is already in sight. But, experts have pointed out that, this year, there is a massive spike in the number of RSV and influenza cases. Reports suggest, that hospitalisation rate linked to these two viruses is the highest since 2010 in the United States. Immunologist Scott Hensley told Nature magazine, “It is possible that this year will be sort of the granddaddy of them all in terms of flu.”

The question is why such infections are rising. How do you know whether you have flu or COVID? and what should we do to protect ourselves?

Why are infections are rising?  

The reasons could be many. Some experts say that for the past two years, the temperature and humidity were not suitable for RSV to spread, and there was a lesser number of infections. This left the population, especially children, immunologically naive to the virus. And for the older population, it is an issue of waning immunity. This is the primary reason for the massive spike in cold and flu infections this year. 

There is another theory that suggests infection with one virus can raise a strong innate immune response that might prevent infection with another virus.

Hensley told Nature last year’s first wave of influenza declined soon after the Omicron surge began. Perhaps Omicron infection provided some short-lived protection against flu. Or maybe the Omicron surge simply convinced people to mask up and keep their distance.

How do you know from symptoms whether you have COVID or flu? 

Both COVID and influenza are respiratory viruses and they spread in a very similar manner. And they show several overlapping symptoms like Fever, Cough, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Tiredness, Sore throat, Runny or stuffy nose, Muscle aches, Headache, Nausea or vomiting. 

So the best way to know whether you have COVID or flu is by getting tested for it

How do we protect ourselves from RSVs?

Like COVID, influenza is transmitted through aerosol droplets, causing infections in the respiratory route either directly by contact or through contaminated surfaces.

So the best way to stay protected is by continuing to follow the COVID protocols like wearing mask, keeping safe distance from someone who is sick and vaccination. 

 

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