February 23, 2024 2:31 pm

Widespread Respiratory Illnesses Surge in Southern California

The surge in illnesses affecting individuals in Southern California is attributed to the widespread transmission of three diseases, as noted by Dr. Ali Jamehdor at Dignity Health. Compared to the previous year, there has been a 33% increase in patients presenting with respiratory illnesses.

In December alone, nearly one in four residents of L.A. County has fallen ill, as reported by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Dr. Jamehdor emphasizes that this year, there is a notable spike in influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and COVID-19 cases, surpassing levels observed in previous years.

Statewide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies the incidence of flu-like illnesses, encompassing non-flu viruses such as coronavirus, as high.

The CDC issues a warning that Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is peaking earlier than usual, and there is concern that the flu may follow a similar pattern.

The duration of omicron symptoms varies based on factors such as age, vaccination status, and overall health.

Dr. Jamehdor notes that more than 90% of adult patients seeking medical attention exhibit cold symptoms, with many testing positive for adult RSV. RSV, a common respiratory virus, typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

Regarding COVID-19, Dr. Jamehdor reports a resurgence in infections, leading to pneumonia, shortness of breath, and increased hospitalizations.

Nationwide, COVID-19 remains a significant cause of hospitalizations and deaths, emphasizing the importance of preventive measures. To reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses, healthcare professionals recommend wearing facemasks in crowded places, frequent handwashing, and maintaining physical distance in public spaces.

Dr. Jamehdor acknowledges the desire to move past lockdowns but emphasizes the importance of precaution, especially in poorly ventilated, close quarters.

The trio of major viral illnesses—COVID, RSV, and influenza—share overlapping symptoms, making accurate diagnosis challenging without testing. While cough and fever are common to all three, there are distinctions in symptoms. Sneezing is associated with RSV, occurs occasionally with COVID-19, and is rare with the flu.

Additionally, headaches and body aches are uncommon with RSV, occur occasionally with COVID-19, and are prevalent with the flu. The “onset of symptoms” is another factor to consider, with COVID-19 and RSV exhibiting a gradual escalation, while the flu typically manifests suddenly and intensely.

For those experiencing symptoms, Dr. Jamehdor recommends prompt testing, adherence to prescribed medications, and ample rest and fluids to manage the specific illness.