A case of covid It is increasing again in many countries. And this time, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has company. In the United States, Europe, and Asia, influenza viruses and a third serious pathogen—respiratory syncytial virus—are on the rise at the same time as the novel coronavirus.

To use an incredibly unscientific term is “tripledemic”. And it exposes our future to pathogens. As we cut down more forests, release animal viruses into humans—and misinformation floods social media, driving vaccine-skepticism to staggering heights—overlapping viral outbreaks may become the norm.

Add another Monkey disease Or bird flu outbreak, And we may experience a “quadruple blood disease.” In addition to overwhelmed health systems, concurrent epidemics pose another serious threat. Studies show that it can actually be making each other worse.

Epidemiologists expect an increase in viral infections in the winter months. People are traveling for various holidays, dragging viruses with them and exposing everyone in their path. Cold weather tends to bring people indoors where they share air, spit, and airborne pathogens.

Therefore, seasonal flu epidemics that we usually see in winter. Covid has set a trend for the same reasons. So it’s no surprise that in recent weeks, cases of COVID have been on the rise in the US, Europe and Japan. There is also a shocking increase in novel-coronavirus infections in China.But there are special reasons for that.

Covid and influenza were about to start their usual winter onslaught, and respiratory syncytial virus was also on the rise. At the height of the RSV outbreak in the US in mid-November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The number of cases is five times higher than last year.

World Health Organization European Division He summed up the crisis. In a statement on December 1. “The region is currently experiencing increased outbreaks of influenza and RSV. Along with Covid-19, these viruses are expected to have a significant impact on our health services and our people this winter.”

RSV usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms — and most people recover quickly. In infants and the elderly, however, RSV can be fatal. It is the main cause of pneumonia in newborns. In addition to the cumulative burden that RSV and other viruses put on hospitals when operating at the same time, there are indications that flu and Covid are making RSV more dangerous. vice versa.

James Lawler, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, put the clues together. Last year we had relatively normal flu and RSV activity, but relatively less… hospitalizations. [or] The consequences of death,” he told The Daily Beast. “This year, flu and RSV activity is somewhat higher than usual—at least early for flu—and a lot of Higher rates of hospitalization in young adults.

In the summer of last year, a large increase in covid, pushed A variant of Omicron, may have debilitated millions of people who are not at high risk for flu and RSV. “Covid causes long-term disruption of immune function and health effects in humans,” Lawler explained.

It is safe to suspect a possible connection between the three viruses. “It’s hard to say we have hard evidence,” Lawler emphasized. But he pointed out something compelling Conditional Evidence. “Covid-South Korea, Japan, Taiwan are the countries that have done better. not at all They are experiencing high hospitalization rates from the flu or RSV this year. Indeed, the Level Influenza and RSV are high in Japan, but injuries are common—and most people are recovering at home.

Research may eventually prove, or disprove, that the immune effects of a particular viral infection are different and may make a different infection worse or worse. While we wait for the science to catch up, we are walking on epidemiologically thin ice. Humans seem determined to expose themselves to many viruses. At the same time, it is determined equally not at all To prevent the effects of these pathogens.

Many of the worst human viruses did not originate in humans. It was animal viruses that made the jump. A smart man After prolonged exposure. Monkey disease is endemic in monkeys and rats in West and Central Africa, and in the 1970s, the rapid loss of rainforests in Africa became a human-only problem. Covid appears to have jumped from pangolins (a type of mischievous anteater) or bats to humans, possibly at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. Bird flu, which occasionally spreads among humans, is, as the name suggests, an avian virus.

The more we cut down forests, the more wild animals we trade as pets or for food, and the more chickens we crowd into industrial farms, the more viruses we encounter—and the greater the chance of animal-to-human transmission. Scientists call the process “zoonosis.”

Barring radical change in the way people build and eat, zoonosis will only get worse. “In general, a large population—human-animal contact increases the number of incidents,” Tony Moody, professor of immunology at Duke’s Human Vaccine Institute, told The Daily Beast. Additionally, “there is a need to increase food production due to population growth and increased contact with domesticated animals.”

With vaccines, we can protect ourselves from serious consequences. But the trend on that front is equally disappointing. As faith in science declines and more people get their “news” from conspiracy theorists on social media, vaccinations begin to suffer.

A quarter of Americans still refuse to get it Any Covid vaccines. Uptake of the latest booster in the U.S. is alarmingly low even this year, with many people not bothering to get their flu shots. Vulnerable communities have eagerly embraced the monkeypox vaccine; Thank goodnessBut a handful of New York counties are rejecting the tried-and-true polio vaccine, leading to a rare — and truly terrifying —A sharp increase in polio cases this summer. Polio, once spread, can cause paralysis in small doses.

Zoonosis and vaccine hesitancy are the twin forces of viral epidemics that could define our future as a species. It’s hard to imagine any point in the future where humanity won’t be dealing with at least one major viral outbreak, because it’s hard to imagine humanity stopping deforestation so quickly and changing the misinformation on the internet so quickly.

Preventable epidemics are here to stay. Maybe more than one major virus at a time.

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