Respiratory viruses spreading faster during holidays

Fresno, Calif. (KFSN) — Fresno County’s first flu-related death comes as other counties across Central California are seeing more patients testing positive for respiratory viruses — following the Christmas holiday.

“We are seeing declines in RSV. However, we’re seeing a large surge in influenza cases and a big uptick in COVID cases as well,” said Dr. John Zweifler with Fresno County Department of Public Health.

“It seems to be that RSV is continuing to decline,” explained Imrinder Toor with Mariposa County Health Services. “Influenza is plateauing, which it is doing nationally, and COVID-19 levels are fairly steady for now.”

Based on these viruses’ incubation periods, health experts only expect the number of cases to increase.

“Depending on when you met with families and gatherings, if it was pre-Christmas or after Christmas, then this would be the time that symptoms will start popping up from exposures,” explained Dr. Kenny Banh with UCSF Fresno.

When it comes to COVID, most of Central California – except Mariposa County – has been identified by the CDC as having a high community transmission level.

“We are seeing a big interest in the COVID-19 booster, especially right before the holidays, as people are preparing to travel and go to family gatherings,” Toor shared.

This New Year’s weekend is another opportunity for family and friends to get together.

Health leaders added it’s also another opportunity for viruses to spread.

“Our emergency rooms are overflowing, and we can help them out by, if you’re sick, staying home, taking care of yourself as long as you’re not having trouble breathing,” Dr. doubter said.

Following Fresno County’s first flu-related death, doctor stress skipping out on holiday parties if you have any symptoms at all.

“You are increasing the chances of spreading the virus to someone else,” said Dr. Doubter.

“You don’t want to be responsible for somebody’s significant illness or, worse yet, their death,” added Dr. banh

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