CDC says respiratory viruses may continue to spread for weeks, ‘possibly even months’: report

As respiratory viruses continue to spread, the “tripledemic” is causing infections to spike across the country and putting strain on the nation’s health workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning Americans that the high level of multiple respiratory illnesses could linger for a while. 

“We anticipate that high levels of respiratory virus activity may continue for several more weeks, or possibly even months,” a spokesperson with the CDC warned, according to Fox 5 D.C.

In a telebriefing at the beginning of the month, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said levels of flu-like illness were higher than generally seen during this time of the year, although noting that there were signs that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) had peaked in some areas. 

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“While this is encouraging, respiratory viruses continue to spread at high levels nationwide,” she said. “And, even in areas where RSV may be decreasing, our hospital systems continue to be stressed with high numbers of patients with other respiratory illnesses.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies during a Senate hearing. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies during a Senate hearing. 
((Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images))

Walensky encouraged people to take preventative actions, wear a mask and get flu and COVID-19 vaccines. 

Many of the viruses circulating have similar symptoms and the CDC stressed the importance of testing to determine treatment.

RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, with older adults and infants and young children at a higher risk, according to the CDC. However, fever is also on the list. 

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Travelers with protective face masks wait in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. 

Travelers with protective face masks wait in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. 
((AP Photo/Jae C. Hong))

The agency said that the flu can cause mild-to-severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The symptoms of the flu include a fever and a stuffy nose. Flu season kicked off earlier this year.

COVID-19 has similar symptoms, including a fever and a sore throat or cough, with older adults and people with underlying medical conditions at higher risk for severe illness.

An electron micrograph reveals the morphologic traits of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). 

An electron micrograph reveals the morphologic traits of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). 
((Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images))

“You cannot tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 by symptoms alone because some of the symptoms are the same,” the CDC says on its website.

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This sickly viral cocktail has left health care workers scrambling. Hospitals in states across the country have reported patient surges and some officials have issued emergency orders.

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