Doctors seeing increase in respiratory illnesses as COVID-19 restrictions lift

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – Now that things are returning to normal, doctors are seeing an increase in respiratory illnesses and fear flu season may be a lot worse this year.

Experts say during the pandemic there were almost no flu deaths compared to previous years. They believe measures taken against COVID-19 played a role. But with more people returning to work and social activities, experts say we’ll likely be exposed to other respiratory illnesses again.

In the southern part of the US, they’ve recently spotted an increase in cases of a common cold virus called RSV. The virus can cause severe disease in young children and older adults. Experts believe flu season will have bigger impact this year because our immunity against it has waned a bit.

“In terms of influenza, we’re really in uncharted territory. There is this possibility that it’s going to come back with a little bit more punch than perhaps we’ve seen over the last few years,” said Richard Webby, an influenza specialist with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Experts say it’s hard to predict how bad the flu will be this year, but they say getting a flu shot, washing your hands, and covering coughs and sneezes can help protect against it.

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