Have you or your kids had viral infections recently? Sometimes it feels like we are playing “catch-up” on viral infections after having relatively few at the beginning of the pandemic. And it’s true that the timing and seasonal variations of certain viral infections are off right now.
Usually we see more enteroviruses in the spring and summer. Enteroviruses and coxsackie viruses cause illnesses like the common cold, Hand Foot Mouth, and Herpangina. Symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, cough, rash, sores in the mouth, fever and muscle and body aches.
But given the interruption to transmission of viruses due to COVID-19, we are seeing other viruses right now that we would not expect to see. Influenza season lasted uncharacteristically long and into the summer months. RSV, a lower respiratory virus, usually occurs in the winter months and is circulating now. And, of course, COVID numbers continue to rise and will undoubtedly get worse as schools start back.
Normal precautions like hand-washing, covering the face and nose for cough and sneezing, and staying home when sick help to reduce transmission of these viruses, but they are often unavoidable especially for those of us that work around other people or have kids in daycare and school.
Rapid COVID tests that you can take at home are helpful and accurate. I recommend taking several tests a day apart if you get a negative result and have COVID – like symptoms. But that said, if you have a negative result and take the test correctly it could very well be your illness is due to any number of other circulating viruses – which also means you are unlikely to need antibiotics to get better. These typically resolve on their own after 3-7 days.
Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and for guidance on how to proceed with testing and treatment. Flu shot season is almost upon us and I recommend getting this vaccination when it is available. We should also have access to Omicron-specific COVID boosters soon and this will be an important tool for staying well, reducing interruption to your routine and preventing serious complications from COVID-19.