Doctors warn of possible 'tridemic' this winter with Covid, the flu and RSV

Medical experts are using the term "tridemic" in a new health warning as the weather gets colder.

"It could potentially be a very long winter with all these viruses," said Dr. Dennis Cunningham of Henry Ford Health.

It's when coronavirus, the flu and RSV - a common respiratory virus, all peak at the same time and that possibility has hospitals across the country on high alert. This includes medical systems right here in southeast Michigan.

"Ever since Covid hit it's been so much different, so could all three hit at the same time? It is a possibility, but I'm really hoping that flu waits until RSV goes away,"

In the past several weeks, emergency rooms all around the US have seen an increase in patients. A major culprit is RSV.

"Our inpatient units, our ERs, are really inundated with patients typically less than five years of age pretty sick with respiratory illnesses," said Dr. Whitney Minnock, Beaumonth Health.

"There are an increased number of visits to urgent cares, emergency room departments and primary care offices for RSV right now," Cunningham said. "I think last week there were approximately 90 positive tests."

RSV typically starts to peak in late December, but medical professionals believe isolation caused by the Covid pandemic could be the cause for this early spike.

"You have a population of kids who just weren't affected by this, because they kind of grew up a little bit more in isolation than kids did before, so now this year they're all seeing this virus that they've never seen before," Minnock said.

Doctors say they are starting to see Covid variants.

"There's about four or five variants we're starting to see in our region of the country that have only been here a week or two," Cunningham said.

Both Beaumont and Henry Ford Health say they are ready if a tridemic were to take place.

"We do have enough staff that we are easily able to meet all the care," Cunningham said.

"We've really been upping our staffing as much as we can, Minnock said.

But doctors say it's crucial that people do their part and protect themselves against these viruses.

"It's not too late to get your flu vaccine," Cunningham said. "It's not too late to get your Covid booster and you can do them both at the same time."