A month after we initially wrote about the Tripledemic and its impact on our society, it is often still the lead story in the news. As the holidays are now upon us, health officials are urging people to take precautions as the country is dealing with the triple-hitter of the flu, COVID and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).
The flu came earlier and stronger this year. The CDC estimates there have been at least 15 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations and 9,300 deaths so far this season. The cumulative hospitalization rate in the “FluServ-NET system is higher than the rate observed in week 49 during every previous season since 2010-2011.” (CDC 12/16/2022).
And unfortunately as Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist and team lead of CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team said, “People don’t have a good appreciation for how severe flu can be.”
COVID is not to be ignored. During this holiday season in the U.S., COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have increased in recent weeks. More than 44% of U.S. counties are experiencing medium to high COVID-19 Community Levels.
The trio of COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is continuing to stress the healthcare system, resulting in decreased hospital capacity and staffing shortages.
Vaccinations are the best defense to stay protected against severe infection from the flu and COVID, but unfortunately people aren’t getting their boosters. 150 million people ages 5 years and older are eligible for the updated booster but have yet to get it. And among adults ages 65 years and older who are at highest risk of becoming severely ill with COVID, 28 million people that are eligible still haven’t gotten their updated booster.
While vaccinations are the best way for humans to defend themselves, when it comes to environments, UV-C light disinfection is an excellent tool to reduce bacteria and virus from the space. With our patented triple-emitter Helios surface disinfection system, Surfacide offers a unique and effective means to help maintain environmental ‘cleanliness’ using a ‘belts and suspenders’ approach.
After manual labor, the Helios robots uses multiple UV-C light towers to simultaneously achieve low-level disinfection, killing vegetative bacteria, some fungi and viruses (including SARS-CoV-2, influenza, RSV). To learn more about the science, please visit https://www.surfacide.com.
We have spoken previously about the sensitivity of SARS-COVID 2 to inactivation by UV-C radiation. Influenza has also been shown to be sensitive to the effects of UV-C radiation at 254 nm. (McDevitt, Rudnick and Radonovich, ‘Aerosol Susceptibility of Influenza Virus to UV-C light, App;. Environ. Microbiol. 2012, Mar; 78(6); 1666-9). Lastly, due it’s being a 1 stranded RNA virus, it can be expected that the RSV virus will be sensitive to inactivation by UV-C at 150 mJ / cm^2 with potential for a 6-log reduction in viable organisms.
Masks and vaccinations are excellent tools to help protect us, however air and surface disinfection should also be considered to assist with control of the environment and protection of the individual. Now is the time to maximize disinfection of air and surfaces in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and schools.
-Farrell B. Melnick, PhD, 40 years of environmental health & safety, including 20 years in hospital design, construction, and infection control