COVID, RSV, flu: What’s the difference?


Cases of respiratory infections are on the rise throughout Canada as the nation faces what well being officers are calling the “triple-threat” of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the newest respiratory virus monitoring report confirmed that the take a look at positivity-rate for when it got here to detecting influenza A was 6.44 per cent for the week of Oct. 29, in comparison with 2.66 per cent in the earlier week. The take a look at positivity fee for RSV was 7.0 per cent throughout Canada, up from 4.74 per cent in the earlier week.

The uptick in infections has additionally led to hospital capability changing into strained, particularly at pediatric hospitals. In Ontario, hospitals are even being requested to confess teenage sufferers to grownup intensive care models.

Meanwhile, pharmacies throughout Canada are additionally coping with a scarcity of cough syrup and chilly medication, notably remedy for kids.

Here’s how the three infections fluctuate and what mother and father have to know throughout this viral wave.


It might be tough to inform whether or not your baby has gotten COVID-19, RSV or the flu, as the three share lots of the identical signs.

“These are respiratory viruses, all three of them, which are transmitted in very comparable methods and are prevented when it comes to stopping their transmission in in very comparable methods,” Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, advised over the cellphone on Thursday.

“All of those ailments may probably result in hospitalizations. All of those have can have a major morbidity and mortality, with COVID main the manner, adopted by RSV, adopted by influenza,” he added.

According to Health Canada, influenza signs usually seem between one and 4 days after publicity, normally in the type of a fever, coughing and muscle aches or ache. Other frequent signs can embrace headache, chills, tiredness, lack of urge for food, sore throat and runny nostril. For youngsters, signs may embrace diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

RSV signs additionally embrace runny nostril, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and fever, Health Canada says, and kids and immunocompromised people are at the highest danger. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says signs usually present up inside 4 to 6 days after changing into contaminated. In very younger infants, RSV signs could embrace irritability, decreased exercise and respiration difficulties, the CDC says.

For COVID-19, Health Canada’s checklist of signs embrace sore throat, runny nostril, sneezing, a brand new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, lack of odor or style, headache, belly ache, diarrhea and vomiting.

The incubation interval for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is usually for much longer than RSV or the flu virus. Symptoms typically seem inside three to seven days after publicity, however it might take so long as 14 days.

Conway notes that it might be tough to pinpoint particular signs in youngsters. Health Canada recommends speaking to a health-care supplier if mother and father discover their youngsters being irritable, not consuming or consuming as regular or not waking up and interacting with others.

“In youngsters, clearly the signs are sometimes not as particular as a result of youngsters aren’t in a position to inform us what’s flawed in as a lot element as adults and so they simply typically really feel very unwell,” he mentioned.


Doctors and well being officers agree that the finest approach to forestall COVID-19 and influenza infections is to get vaccinated, particularly now that each the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine are extensively obtainable throughout Canada.

“The vaccine for influenza, what’s circulating proper now, appears to be an excellent match to the vaccine. So we do anticipate it having a powerful protecting impact in opposition to the have to be hospitalized,” Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of Ontario, advised CP24 on Wednesday.

The flu vaccine is on the market for kids as younger as six months of age. The new bivalent vaccines are solely obtainable for people 12 and over, though monovalent booster vaccines are nonetheless obtainable for anybody six months of age and older.

Currently, there is no vaccine obtainable for RSV, though Pfizer says its medical trial for a brand new RSV vaccine reveals optimistic outcomes. Since RSV primarily spreads by droplets and may survive on surfaces for a number of hours, Conway says common hand washing can nonetheless go a good distance.

“We do actually need to maintain washing our palms the manner we have discovered to do in the previous two years. I feel that is helped us so much. And I feel that daycares, faculties and so forth ought to have hand sanitizer obtainable and that it ought to be a part of our regular,” he mentioned.

While masks mandates have nearly completely disappeared throughout Canada, selecting to put on a masks also can assist forestall the transmission of any respiratory infectious illness. Some consultants, akin to the former head of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory desk, have even referred to as for the return of masks mandates in public areas.

If your baby does find yourself changing into sick with RSV, COVID-19 or the flu, consultants agree that they need to keep house till they really feel higher. Conway additionally recommends conserving a masks on in public for the subsequent few days after recovering.

“I’m very a lot of a proponent of carrying a masks for a number of days after you reintegrate your regular day by day actions,” he mentioned. “I feel that is most likely a good suggestion as a result of there could also be some residual transmission.”

With recordsdata from CP24.


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