Respiratory illnesses hitting the Bay Area

Health officials are issuing a warning as families prepare to gather this holiday season, especially with the Bay Area in the midst of a triple epidemic.

Health experts said at this point how this season develops is in everyone's hands.

There is good news and bad news. 

The bad news is health experts say there are three major respiratory illnesses currently circulating right. 

The good news is that people can take preventative measures to protect themselves and their loved ones. 

After two years of pandemic living the last thing people want to hear about is more respiratory illnesses. 

However, San Francisco's Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip says the Bay Area needs to hear and heed warnings about COVID, the flu and RSV.

"Respiratory illnesses are increasing in San Francisco as well as state-wide and nationwide," said Philip. "This is especially the case for influenza which is happening earlier this year and at higher levels than prior years."

San Francisco has seen 126 flu patients this week needing hospitalization up from 112 last week. COVID is up too, 114 cases up from 90 last week.

Doctors, especially pediatric doctors say they're seeing a surge in patients many of whom haven't been exposed to viruses for the past two years.

"We're seeing a lot of catchup, we're also seeing a lot of repeat infections where one child will have virus A one week, and then get virus B a week and a half later," said Dr. Vincent Tamariz a pediatric emergency physician at CPMC's Van Ness campus.

All of this, doctors say, is especially dangerous during the holidays when families gather, including those most vulnerable to respiratory illnesses.

Doctors say fortunately there are layers of protection such as vaccinations for flu and COVID boosters. 

"Vaccinate yourselves, wear masks, wash your hands if you feel sick, stay home seek our help and seek treatment early and if you're party planning try to do that outside or in well ventilated spaces," said Dr. Gabriel Ortiz from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Families looking to gather say they're happy they will be together, but they're taking precautions.

"My family is a little bit less cautious than in previous years with, like, COVID," said Tatiana Hernandez. "But, I know I have grandparents that I want to take into account and want to protect their health especially."