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Early flu season mixed with a spike in RSV, Covid created a 'Tripledemic'

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Posted at 5:10 PM, Dec 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 07:22:51-05

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Waiting rooms at urgent cares, hospitals and other medical facilities are filling up throughout the country, and Wisconsin is no exception.

The rise in wait times and unavailable beds can be caused to what experts are calling a "tripledemic"; a collision of RSV, Covid-19, and flu cases.

“Our daily census is up nearly 30% from normal,” said Dr. Ryan Murphy, a BayCare Clinic emergency medicine physician. “We are getting close to 130-150 people a day coming in for swabs.”

Part of the tripledemic problem is due in part to the flu season making an earlier-than-expected appearance this year as typically the season begins after the holidays.

“It’s picked up more so in the last 3 to 4 weeks but even especially in the past week alone, there are a lot more positive flu swabs that we are seeing in the emergency department and urgent cares,” says Murphy.

Which is the complete opposite of last year.

“We hardly saw any influenza last year,” says Murphy. “But this is mostly influenza, we have had a few Covid and RSV [cases] but a majority are Influenza A.”

Due to the surge in Influenza A cases, patients can expect their wait for a mouth swab to be over an hour long.

“Now, it's kind of all chaos honestly, and part of the issue is that we are dealing with so many things all at one time," Murphy stated.

Pharmacies are now also paying the price of the tripledemic as shortages of over-the-counter medication are starting to show across the nation and there is a struggle to keep antibiotics in stock.

“A lot of the pharmacies are having a hard time just keeping basic liquid and antibiotics in stock so we have to pick an antibiotic that we typically wouldn't use or don't often use until the pharmacies can get them [back] in stock,” says Murphy.

According to the FDA, there is a current shortage of 125 medications; with amoxicillin in top demand as it's used for the treatment of bacterial infections of the chest such as pneumonia and RSV.

As of now, experts do not have any predictions as to when this tripledemic will end but do recommend that people stay home if they are feeling sick, wear a mask when they aren't feeling well, or have been in contact with someone that is sick and to wash your hand often.