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‘We know it’s in the community’: Health officials urge people to take precautions as respiratory viruses start to spread in the Northwoods

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Influenza, RSV, and COVID are all making the rounds in the Northwoods.

Dr. Eunice Corujo-Incha is a pediatrician at Aspirus Rhinelander Clinic. She says they all have very similar symptoms. Without testing, it can be hard to know for sure which virus you’ve picked up.

The flu tends to be high fever and feeling like you’ve been hit by truck.

“It hits you, it hits you good,” said Corujo-Incha.

COVID can run the gamut of symptoms from coughing to diarrhea to headaches.

“This round has had a lot of sore throats complaints which not every variant has had, but what we have right now does have the complaint of sore throats. At least we have seen it with our kids,” she said.

RSV usually presents as a common cold in adults. In children under two, it can be severe.

“We know it’s in the community. All three diseases are in the community,” said Corujo-Incha.

No matter what illness you do get, the treatment tends to be the same: Get rest, drink lots of fluids, and manage your fever if you have one.

Corujo-Incha says if you or child can’t keep fluids down, have difficulty breathing, or your symptoms last several days, you should seek medical attention.

Her biggest advice? Prevention.

“The most important prevention is handwashing, handwashing, handwashing,” Corujo-Incha.

Corujo-Incha also recommends getting vaccinated. There are ones available for the flu and COVID for infants as young as six months.

She also says if you’re sick, stay home.

“You can go visit Grandma after the holidays. Grandma doesn’t need your illness and you do not need grandma’s illness either. Less than too are high risk for almost anything. Over 65 are high risk for almost anything,” said Corujo-Incha.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says it’s already seeing an alarming number of hospitalizations due to respiratory illness so far this year.

Corujo-Incha says they’re not seeing that quite yet here in the Northwoods, but she knows it’s coming.

“Two weeks from now after Thanksgiving, we’ll probably see a big increase cause everybody’s together, especially during the winter we’re enclosed,” she said. “Then we’ll see it again mid, beginning of January. We have cases already of all three. COVID has never gone away for the last three years.”

Corujo-Incha says you should call your medical provider if you have any questions.

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