As we enter mid-summer, a few infectious disease notes are worth mentioning.
Though COVID interest has waned, there will be a new monovalent vaccine in the fall targeting XBB. We’ll keep you posted on when and who needs this. We are still seeing COVID infections, though with reported 96 percent population immunity between those receiving vaccines and those who have had infection (or both), the cases remain largely mild. Thus far, the anti-viral Paxlovid is working well to tamp down more moderate symptoms for those affected. We have not yet seen a mutation provoking a more virulent variant.
The RSV vaccine received approval for those 60 and over. Once we understand when this will be available, we can review and see who may be eligible. The oversight committee stopped short of mandating the vaccine for older people and instead have made this a shared clinical decision-making process for those interested. Those who are at high risk for respiratory complications from RSV will be first in line. And of course, to stave off the risk of a “tripledemic” with COVID, RSV, and influenza anticipated in the fall, we’ll be providing flu vaccinations as the summer comes to a close. We typically look to the southern hemisphere to predict our upcoming flu season, and unfortunately, they do appear to be having a higher-intensity flu burden this year.
In Peru, there are record cases of dengue fever. Dengue is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito – the same mosquito that transmits chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever. About 25 percent of people with dengue become ill; symptoms range from nausea, vomiting, rash, and muscle or eye pain along with fever. Treatment is supportive – acetaminophen (Tylenol) and hydration are key for supportive care. A very small percentage of people may develop severe dengue, especially if they had exposure previously.
For tick and mosquito prevention, please see this memo from the EPA regarding good repellents (this page in particular can help you find a product that might work well for you). See this handy tick bite tool about how to proceed if you find a tick on your body. You may collect the tick if it’s easy to do so, place it in a Ziploc within a moistened tissue and, if needed, we can send it to the lab for identification. We will also use doxycycline for post-exposure prophylaxis if certain conditions are met, so let us know if you are concerned and we will give appropriate guidance.