With several illnesses spiking, how do you and your family stay safe?

Winter illness spikes cause problems for hospitals and healthcare providers

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It seems like everyone is sick right now. With the flu, COVID-19 and RSV spiking in Monroe County, it is tough to know what you have and how to treat it.

News10NBC looked into what’s going around, and how you can protect yourself and your family.

The spikes we are seeing are not necessarily abnormal, but they are causing problems for hospitals and health care providers. And since we only in the middle of COVID and flu season, they want to remind you of some best practices for the season.

We’re a few days out from the holidays — and all that celebrating together can mean you’ve shared more than just gifts and good times. The most recent data from Monroe County shows RSV and flu cases have been climbing since October. In the week leading up to Christmas, over 520 people tested positive for RSV and over 1,300 had the flu.

“We are seeing a lot of cases of influenza and RSV causing hospitalizations, and it is filling up our hospitals,” said Dr. Angela Branche, infectious disease physician at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She said even they have a difficult time pinpointing a patient’s illness — and said at-home COVID tests are about 70% accurate when used correctly.

“If your at-home test is negative, I would still recommend giving your doctor a call, possibly going to an urgent care if you are well enough that you can still stay home,” Branche said.

She said that masking in public places and keeping your hands clean and off your face are excellent ways to prevent coming down with something — but the best prevention is vaccination.

“It’s never too late to get vaccinated. Even if vaccines don’t protect you from getting sick or infected, they will certainly protect you from getting very ill,” Branche said.

While almost everyone is eligible for COVID-19 and flu vaccines, only those 60 and above and able to get the RSV vaccine. That leaves out one of the most at-risk populations: children.

Danielle Adam, medical director at Spencerport Central School District, said staff are always keeping an eye on attendance to make sure they’re not seeing clusters of illness. And if they do begin to notice more students getting sick, they try to slow down the spread of disease.

“The nurses will go into the classroom, we will talk about respiratory etiquette — making sure the kids are covering their coughs, making sure they are covering their faces,” Adam said.

Of course, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to keep physical contact low — but if that isn’t possible, you should wear a mask.