New 'tripledemic' test can detect flu, COVID or RSV in same swab

Darla Miles Image
Thursday, November 2, 2023
New 'tripledemic' test can detect flu, COVID or RSV in same swab
Darla Miles has more on a new 'tripledemic' test.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Health experts are sounding the alarm about a so-called tripledemic as the flu, RSV and COVID are all threats as we head into the cold winter months full of holiday gatherings.

Officials at Northwell Health say there is a new test that can detect all three with one swab. Patients can download an app and test at home.

"We recommend that if people are symptomatic and they talk to their doctor and they need to get a test, we can provide a good PCR triple test, for COVID, flu, RSV," said Dr. Dwayne Breining with Northwell Health Labs.

What used to just be considered cold and flu season, which begins in the fall, is now being referred to as the tripledemic as yearly COVID strains have been added to the mix.

The youngest patients are most at risk.

"Most of these children, the problem with these kids is being young, so the peak time to be hospitalized with RSV is one or two months of age," said Dr. Lorry Rubin, MD with Cohen's Children Medical Center.

On Thursday morning, the chief of the division of pediatric infectious disease waved the red flag for parents about the tripledemic as his department is seeing an uptick over the last two weeks.

"Typically RSV infections peak in December or January," Rubin said. "This year it started in earnest in October and is peaking in November."

Overall, according to the CDC, the Tri-State is not seeing high tripledemic infection rates. But in the Bay Area, five separate counties have had to reinstate mask mandates for health care facilities because of a spike in cases there.

Doctors at Northwell Health rolled out their test for the tripledemic on Thursday and emphasazied the importance of vaccines.

"In the hospital, we have an ongoing readiness and doing what we need to do accommodate patients coming into the hospital," said Dr. David Hirschwerk, Medical Director of North Shore University Hospital.

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