As we are approaching spring 2023, viruses other than COVID have been making the news. Norovirus, the highly contagious gastrointestinal virus, can wreak havoc in families, setting off abrupt vomiting and diarrhea. We are at a 12-month high of cases as of the end of February. The incubation period is relatively short – anywhere from 12-48 hours, with the illness lasting usually 24-72 hours. Good handwashing and thorough washing of fruits and vegetables prior to eating are all ways to avoid illness. Because this can be a food-borne illness, strict hand washing prior to meal prep is also very helpful to prevent disease.
We are also seeing a cascade of non-COVID respiratory illnesses that are lingering sometimes beyond their usual cadence. We understand that the interrupted circulation of viruses in children and adults due to COVID and masking in the last couple of years has resulted in an immunity gap that may create more robust viral seasons in the coming years. On that note, Lucira has a molecular over-the-counter test checking for both COVID and influenza in one swab that is available now. We anticipate other rapid tests coming to the market this year that will screen for multiple viruses at one setting.
As for COVID, the predicted winter wave was not as much of a surge as expected. There were increased case numbers but fortunately not as tolling on the healthcare system as the prior two winters. We are still waiting to hear what boosters will look like in the future and if the primary series may be replaced by the bivalent vaccine doses at some point.
The viral season as mentioned above is somewhat extended and we continue to see various viral pathogens circulating – as you can see by this LA County Viral Surveillance graph. While influenza is waning, multiple other viruses continue to circulate, including SARS-CoV-2.
In other vaccine news, the FDA just recommended approval for RSV vaccines for adults aged 60 and up. We shall see what the final recommendations are as safety profiles are still being evaluated.