NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – This cough and cold season has forced entire school districts in Tennessee to close. Doctors say they are battling both flu cases and RSV at the exact same time.

“Things are very busy and the hospital beds are very full,” said Dr. Joseph Gigante, professor of pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Dr. Gigante says cases of flu and RSV are being reported very early this season. It’s important that parents can spot the difference between the two viruses. Both can come with cough, congestion and runny nose. But with RSV, the virus could get into the infant’s lungs and cause inflammation.

“Looking to see if they are working harder to breathe. Are they breathing really fast? Are you seeing them move their chest up and down really quickly, really rapidly?”

Also pay close attention to your baby’s coloring. If the pink color changes, especially to blue, that could be a severe case of RSV. As for flu, a high fever, body aches, and not interested in eating, are clear symptoms that doctors say Motrin or Tylenol could soothe.

“Be sure that you have fluids on board, so they don’t get dry and dehydrated.”

After two years of COVID dominating our emergency rooms, a change is happening: COVID numbers are down, but doctors say that it’s been years since we’ve seen flu and RSV rates this high.

“Our flu rates and RSV rates over the COVID period and over the COVID pandemic, have been very low. I think as a result of that, it hasn’t been circulating in the community, especially with RSV. So, I think that might be one reason why we are seeing RSV so early and so severely this early on in the winter season.”

As you know, vaccines are available for COVID and the flu, but not RSV, at least not yet. Vanderbilt researchers are working to develop one.

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“There have been some promising results as far as perhaps getting a RSV vaccine on the market within the next year or two.”

Dr. Gigante worries that COVID numbers could go up by winter, and then doctors are battling a so-called “Tripledemic”: COVID, RSV, and flu.