Warning over contagious virus that could spark nationwide winter tripledemic

The UK could be staring down the barrel of a ‘tripledemic’ after the emergence of a child-targeting virus.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is threatening to make an appearance this winter and comes with cold-like symptoms that are usually quite mild.

The third virus comes amid the ongoing struggle against a nasty flu season and fears of a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

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The original two have already been labelled a ‘twindemic’ and so the prospect of a third is not something that the NHS or the nation will receive warmly.

RSV can in some cases lead to pneumonia although in most cases the issues caused are not too serious, the Mirror reports.

Most people feel better after a couple of weeks, with those most at risk of complications including the elderly, babies and those with pre-existing conditions that make them vulnerable.

Scarily, nothing in the UK puts more infants in hospital than RSV.

Swabbing to gain widespread information by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) found that almost one in three under-fives ending up in the hospital test positive for the disease.

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RSV can be particularly nasty for the younger portions of the population, meaning it can be cause for more concern than the other two illnesses making up the ‘tripledemic’.

Speaking to the Express, Professor Francois Balloux of the UCL Genetics Institute, said: "RSV is a leading cause of child hospitalisation and the virus kills more than 100,000 children each year globally.

“That’s more than 50 times as many children than those who died from Covid throughout the pandemic.

"It’s a far bigger threat to young children than Covid or seasonal flu."

He added: "RSV is highly contagious and the majority of children experience an RSV infection before the age of two. It’s not obvious that its spread can be suppressed without enforcing highly disruptive measures.

“There is hope RSV child hospitalisations and deaths will decrease in the future with new RSV vaccines being rolled out soon."

Around 7.4% of the population is currently thought to have RSV, according to data from the UKHSA, which also claims that around one in three children under five has the virus.

At the time of writing, around two million people are thought to have Covid.

Not everyone is overly concerned through.

Speaking to the Mirror, Professor Amitava Banerjee of the Institute of Health Informatics and UCL, said: "In my view, the word 'tripledemic' is just the latest soundbite and we do not necessarily know that RSV will be as big a threat.”

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