Respiratory diseases heating up as the weather cools down – AZ Dept. of Health Services Director’s Blog

Respiratory illnesses increasingThe weather may be cooling down, but respiratory diseases are beginning to heat up in Arizona. Common cold-causing viruses such as rhinovirus and enterovirus are circulating at this time throughout the U.S. 

The 2022-2023 influenza season recently began Oct. 2, but we’re already seeing a higher rate of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity than usual. So far, three times more influenza and 4.5 times more RSV cases have been reported when compared to the five-season average for this week. Nationally, influenza and RSV cases are also on the rise. In addition to these more traditional respiratory viruses circulating, COVID-19 also continues throughout Arizona. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these respiratory viruses circulated at much lower levels than we had previously seen. However, it appears these usually seasonal respiratory viruses are bouncing back this year.

So, what can you and your family do to better protect yourselves from these cold and flu viruses? 

One of the best ways is getting your annual influenza vaccine and staying up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines. The influenza vaccine is the best way to protect you, your family, and your community against influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people 6 months or older receive the flu shot as soon as possible. If you’re over the age of 65, this year there is a new recommendation to get the higher-dose flu vaccine, which provides even stronger protection. 

For a list of influenza and COVID-19 vaccine clinics near you, please visit vaccinefinder.org

In addition to vaccinations, these steps can protect against respiratory viruses: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, elbow, or shirt sleeve. 

As always, please also stay home or wear a mask if you are feeling sick to help protect others from becoming infected. 

You can stay up-to-date on influenza and RSV activity in Arizona throughout the season by viewing our weekly reports on the ADHS website, and subscribing to our influenza and RSV report at azhealth.gov/email.

AZ Dept. of Health Services

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