The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Winter virus season officially begins

Siena Culligan
A customer checks in to get a vaccine at the CVS in San Carlos, where they offer many free vaccines, including ones for the flu, COVID-19, and more.

As the holiday season starts, San Mateo County has reported rises in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and Influenza, and health officials are urging people to take precautions. 

With everyone traveling to see family during the holiday season, the share of germs and viruses increases on a large scale, creating what we know as the flu season. However, it’s not just the flu that increases in cases during this time.

“RSV is a known virus, and we’ve been seeing it for years, but what changed is during the pandemic, we started to see it earlier in the season, coming in late October and November, whereas, in the past, it used to start in January and peak later after that,” said Dr. Kismet Baldwin-Santana, a San Mateo County health officer. 

According to Baldwin-Santana, the small spike that health officials see in RSV is not uncommon now and lines up with the past two or three years in terms of cases around this time,

RSV is a respiratory virus that is fairly common and results in mild, cold-like symptoms that resolve in a week or two for adults without other health conditions, according to the CDC. It can be more severe for infants and older populations, sometimes resulting in hospitalization. 

“We monitor hospitalization very closely; that’s very important to us so that we’re not overloading hospitals,” Baldwin-Santana said.

There hasn’t been a significant increase in hospitalization for RSV in the San Francisco Bay Area. That being said, there has been a slight increase in visits to the ER for flu-related symptoms, according to Dr. Monika Roy, the assistant health officer for the Santa Clara County Health Department. 

“Visits to emergency rooms for influenza-like illnesses have been increasing since the beginning of November,” Roy said.

With all of this going on, reported COVID-19 cases have stayed relatively low, showing similar trends to last time. The test positivity rate as of right now is 7.3%, according to San Mateo County Health.

The advised ways to protect oneself from viruses like RSV and the flu are similar to COVID-19. There are vaccines for all three of these that can prevent severe cases of these viruses, according to the CDC.

There are also some nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that one can do to stay safe. Baldwin-Santana recommends staying home when feeling unwell, testing for COVID-19, and wearing a mask in public areas. Doing things like building up your immune system and practicing good hygiene are beneficial, too, according to the CDC.

“Some people still wear masks, which probably prevents the spread of disease,” said Lyra Cunningham, a sophomore at Carlmont. “Most classrooms have hand sanitizer because of the pandemic; I always use hand sanitizer when offered.”

It’s still early in the virus season, and San Mateo County is not on track to have a big spike this holiday season. However, being proactive and taking the precautions mentioned can help prevent significant rises in the coming weeks, according to Baldwin-Santana.

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About the Contributor
Siena Culligan
Siena Culligan, Staff Writer
Siena Culligan (class of 2026) enjoys playing sports, including basketball for Carlmont, going to the most random places with friends, and listening to good music. This is her first year writing for Carlmont.

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  • J

    jae HDec 20, 2023 at 12:02 am

    Love this article, very informative, and well written