St. John’s Expert Warns of Triple Threat Posed by Winter Viruses

St. John’s Expert Warns of Triple Threat Posed by Winter Viruses
December 20, 2022

Yumi Lee, Pharm.D.

According to Yumi Lee, Pharm.D., Associate Clinical Professor in the College of Pharmacy and Health at St. John’s University, common sense preventative measures could alleviate the triple threat of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this winter sciences.

according to dr Lee, an infectious disease specialist, said the New York City Department of Health’s recent recommendation for indoor masks is a reminder of the ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic at a time when other seasonal viruses are also on the rise.

“There are several things that we are looking at right now,” said Dr. Lee. “The number of all three diseases is growing. We saw RSV earlier this year and then the flu showed up – and of course we still have the common cold and COVID.”

As a Clinical Specialist in Infectious Diseases at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, NY, and a veteran member of St. John’s faculty, Dr. Lee is not surprised at the emergence of what some health experts have dubbed “triple demic.”

As COVID cases increase, so does the respiratory disease RSV, which can send young children to the emergency room with trouble breathing. The New York City Department of Health has reported a spike in RSV cases every week since mid-September, with a record number of city children hospitalized with the virus in November.

Meanwhile, the New York State Department of Health is reporting 30,000 more cases of flu this year than the same time in 2021, with cases skyrocketing at the highest rate in years.

Ironically, according to Dr. Lee three things behind the “triple demia”. “We have relaxed the wearing of masks,” she said. “In terms of social distancing, we are not staying at home like we have been. We gather again.”

“But it’s also our third year of the COVID pandemic,” continued Dr. Lee gone. “We’ve spent a lot of that time alone and haven’t been exposed to the flu, cold or RSV. We’ve lost some of the natural immunity we had to these conditions.”

With the holiday season in full swing, how should St. John’s parishioners and others protect themselves from the “triple demia”? A return to masking indoors under new Department of Health guidelines is a start, said Dr. Lee.

It is also advisable to keep up to date on vaccinations against COVID-19 and the flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent RSV. dr Lee also recommends avoiding the office if you’re feeling symptomatic.

“We know that masking works for COVID,” she said, “but it also prevents the spread of flu and other viruses. The new masking recommendations are super helpful.”

“If you’re planning on gathering over the holidays, maybe do a COVID test,” continued Dr. Lee gone. “It’s an extra layer of security for everyone. An important key is to get vaccinated against the flu and get the new COVID booster. And remember to educate yourself: it’s not like getting vaccinated won’t prevent you from catching the flu, but it does prevent serious illness and hospitalization.”

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