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Explore the latest outbreak of hybrid viruses, including a unique combination of COVID and flu strains.

Move over, COVID and Flu! We Have “Hybrid Viruses” To Contend With Now

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Move over, COVID and Flu! We have “hybrid viruses” to contend with now

COVID and influenza viruses can be serious, of course, so let’s be clear up front that we’re not being dismissive of those. But, most people are hearing a lot about them, whereas respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has flown under a lot of radars.

Simply put, until recently it hasn’t been considered much of a threat except to the young, the old, or people with other respiratory illnesses. Only these days, the prevalence of “other respiratory illnesses” is a lot higher than it used to be!

It’s not just a comorbidity

It’s easy to think “well of course if you have more than one illness at once, especially similar ones, that’s going to suck” but it’s a bit more than that; it produces newer, more interesting, hybrid viruses. Here’s a research paper from last year’s “flu season”:

Coinfection by influenza A virus and respiratory syncytial virus produces hybrid virus particles

Best to be aware of this if you’re in the “older” age-range

It’s not just that the older we are, the more likely we are to get it. Critically, the older we are, the more likely we are to be hospitalized by it.

And..the older we are, the less likely we are to come back from hospital if hospitalized by it.

Some years back, the intensive care and mortality rates for people over the age of 65 were 8% and 7%, respectively:

Respiratory syncytial virus infection in elderly and high-risk adults

…but a new study this year has found the rates like to be 2.2x that, i.e. 15% intensive care rate and 18% mortality, respectively:

Adjusting for Case Under-Ascertainment in Estimating RSV Hospitalisation Burden of Older Adults in High-Income Countries: a Systematic Review and Modelling Study

Want to know more?

Here are some hot-off-the-press news articles on the topic:

And as for what to do…

Same general advice as for COVID and Flu, just, ever-more important:

  • Try to keep to well-ventilated places as much as possible
  • Get any worrying symptoms checked out quickly
  • Mask up when appropriate
  • Get your shots as appropriate

See also:

Harvard Health Review | Fall shots: Who’s most vulnerable to RSV, COVID, and the flu, and which shots are the right choice for you to help protect against serious illness and hospitalization?

Stay safe!

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