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Doctors hope to avoid post-Thanksgiving bump in illnesses as COVID-19, flu and RSV spread

Doctors hoping to avoid post-Thanksgiving spike of respiratory illnesses
Doctors hoping to avoid post-Thanksgiving spike of respiratory illnesses 02:49

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Doctors are preparing for a post-Thanksgiving bump in holiday illnesses – 'tis the season for togetherness and spreading germs.

Doctors are hoping to avoid another trifecta of infections with COVID-19, flu and RSV –  respiratory syncytial virus – all happening at the same time.

"We started to see this start to increase even prior to the holiday gatherings," Dr. Martin Topiel, of Virua Health, said.  

Dr. Topiel, the chief of infection prevention at Virtua Health, said emergency room visits are up mainly for RSV and flu, and they could really see a bigger spike in the coming weeks after Thanksgiving. 

RSV is spreading widely across the United States, and it's spiking in the eastern part of Pennsylvania. 

Symptoms include a high fever, worsening cough and trouble breathing that can lead to hospitalization and even death.

"I just remember my wife and I were standing in the hospital room crying going 'What do you do?' I have zero control," said Chris Comstock, whose 20-month-old daughter was hospitalized with RSV.  

For COVID-19, rates are still relatively low, but the CDC said hospitalizations are increasing nationally, with just 15% of adults receiving the latest vaccine. 

"The COVID uptake vaccine has been disappointing. We don't know where that's going to land us as December and January comes," Dr. Topiel said. 

And now, the flu is on the move. 

The CDC surveillance map shows flu cases are high in the south and minimal in Pennsylvania and Delaware, but moderate in New Jersey.

Dr. Topiel said it's all about seasonal togetherness  

"The cold weather brings people indoors," Dr. Topiel said.  "These are the conditions that allow spreading of viral infection."

Doctors say vaccines could help prevent a trifecta. Flu and COVID shots and are recommended for everyone over the next six months. The RSV vaccine is for babies and the elderly. 

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