Have any of you caught a cold yet or know someone who has? I know I have and it was tough to shake. Does it seem that there are more colds around this year? I thought I would Google it and I was surprised by what I learned.

An interesting article in Yale Medicine by Kathy Ketella, “Are Colds and Flu Coming Back?” Aug 2021, reports that scientists are expecting a greater number of colds and flu this year. Ellen
Foxman, M.D. PhD. Yale Medicine Immunobiologist says “We really don’t know what will happen.” This is all a “big experiment.” There is no precedent for this in recent memory. At no time have we masked ourselves to this degree and isolated from others.

We trust that we possibly saved hundreds of thousands of lives last year by wearing masks and social distancing, but in doing so, it is theorized that we missed a year of building up our antibodies to colds and flu. Getting our yearly boost so to speak. Carlos Oliveira, M.D. PH.D says “ exposure maintains our immunity.” As a result, many of us may not have many antibodies in our bodies to fight the usual illnesses and therefore may have a heightened response. Last year, the percentage of positive flu cases was only 0.2% compared to the usual 26 to 30%.

The article noted a study from Hong Kong showing that children returning to school after the lockdown had a sudden increase in colds despite returning with masking and social distancing. The reason is that cold viruses tend to gather on surfaces, making cleaning and hand washing a priority, whereas COVID was largely spread through the air or droplet infection.

Unfortunately COVID-19 is still among us; among the unvaccinated and also break through infections in the vaccinated. It’s symptoms are essentially still the same as colds and flu. The only way to truly determine the difference is to get tested. We are so fortunate to now have good testing available for COVID and for flu. Testing will help assure you get the correct treatment for your illness and help contain the spread of disease.

Another virus that has had a serious impact on us this year in particular is RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus. This was actually identified about 50 years ago but did not become well known until possibly the past ten years. This year unfortunately, it has filled pediatric hospital beds and has become quite deadly among children and the elderly. Again, similar symptoms and yes, there is a good test available.

This article also pointed out that it appears viruses like to spread themselves out. They tend not to invade each other’s space. When a person has had a cold or flu, that person tends not to get one
of the other viruses, including COVID. This is still a very early, and unpredictable observation. The doctors pointed out that it would not be wise to try to catch a cold in an attempt to achieve some
protection as there is no certainly of a desired response. You cannot pick and choose which virus you want to get, or how much of it you will receive. The best defense is still to get the COVID shots, or boosters, and the flu shots. COVID boosters may soon be authorized for all adults, not just the immunocompromised or elderly, and flu shots are still recommended for all persons over 6 months of age, and can be received from September through March.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday Season, and wish you good health. Enjoy those family gatherings, being vaccinated certainly makes it safer for us as they do give us good protection, wear your mask if you feel you are particularly susceptible, wash your hands, and keep some ventilation going if vaccination status is in question.

Stay well,
Anna Marie Manzano R.N.

Colds and Flu are Back