HOUSTON (KIAH) – Nexstar’s Idolina Peralez spoke with a Texas Medical Center infectious disease specialist who shares how to protect your family in anticipation of a “tripledemic” as we head into the holidays.

Dr. Michael Change, of UT Health and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, also shares the theory behind the RSV surge.

Q: Now we’re looking towards Thanksgiving, what can we be doing to protect ourselves, each other families community as we start to really head into the holidays?

A: Right. So, fortunately, you know, in our region in the greater Houston area, COVID cases are still relatively low.

But again, we may see these new variants start to increase cases of COVID. 

So putting COVID aside, the wearing masks, physical distancing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, and most importantly, when you have symptoms, if you have a runny nose or sore throat is trying to stay home or are trying to wear a mask, and really using those infection prevention techniques. 

Those infection prevention measures can still help for RSV and flu. 

And on the adult side. Again, individuals over age 65 Certainly if you have underlying heart or lung disease, COPD, high blood pressure, history of heart attack, those things can be worsened by flu, and by RSV.

Q: So, adults can also get RSV and pass it on to their kids as well?

A: That’s right. And so you know, that’s one of the reasons people theorize that we have such a big surge right now. So so not only did we not see young kids with RSV when we were doing all the infection prevention techniques for COVID. But you know, adults didn’t get it either. And so what we think happened is that our immunity against RSV actually waned over time. 

And because they don’t have that immunity, they’re also able to get it easier and to spread it easier.

And so we think it’s both a combination of young kids kind of getting exposed for the first time; everyone was returning to normal behavior. And then the adults and older kids not having had that boost, and spreading it easier than in previous years. So yes, adults can get RSV. Fortunately, for most older kids and adults, it’s going to look like a cold. So runny nose, congestion, sore throat, maybe some cough.

But again, if you are an adult with underlying COPD, for example, again, asthma, or any kind of heart disease, you are at increased risk of severe illness and hospitalization and a number of adults. If you look at CDC information, there’s a, you know, a significant number of adults who actually do get hospitalized for RSV, and again, primarily those with underlying conditions.

Dr. Michael Chang, MD, has practiced since 2003 and is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases.