Spread Holiday Cheer and Love – Not Viral Infections
Tips from Lake County’s Public Health Officer, Noemi Doohan, MD, PhD, MPH, and the Lake County Health Services Team to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe and Well This Holiday Season
Lake County, CA (December 19, 2023) –The winter holidays bring festive and richly meaningful opportunity for people of all cultures to connect with one another, and foster a spirit of unity and peace. Lake County Health Services wants to support your observing the season in a manner that is enjoyable and safe. Winter Respiratory Virus season coincides with fall and winter holidays, and infections are currently on the rise.
Members of the public will be aware RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), influenza and COVID-19 cause lung and respiratory symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing and coughing. Flu-like symptoms are common, as well.
Some viral infections circulating this season (enteroviruses) cause digestive (gastrointestinal) symptoms, like diarrhea. While it is early in the season, the rate of these respiratory and GI viral infections has been similar to last year’s levels.
One difference this year is we do not report daily case rates from individual tests of patients experiencing COVID-19 viral infections (as was regular practice during the Pandemic).
Now that the pandemic is over, and reported individual-level testing is less prevalent, data is differently tracked. For example, population level data from Wastewater is monitored.
The CDC also tracks data gathered at the County level.
Where COVID-19-related illness is concerned, available vaccines and medicines are effective. Respiratory Virus Season will extend into 2024, and COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots reduce the likelihood of serious and extended illness. There is also a RSV vaccine for those who qualify (such as pregnant women and older adults).
If you become ill with COVID-19 or the flu, highly effective medicines can be obtained through a medical provider. If you do not have access to a provider, or want more information regarding accessible COVID-19 treatments, California COVID-19 Test to Treat Program resources can help.
What else can I do to limit risk of serious illness and spreading infection to others?
Simple behaviors can limit spread of germs and Winter Respiratory and other viral infections:
- If you are sick, stay isolated at home.
- Sick and unable to isolate? Wash your hands frequently and strongly consider wearing a mask.
- Hosting a large gathering? Consider gathering outside, or indoor locations with good airflow (e.g. open windows or screen doors).
When we gather for the holidays, we want to spread holiday cheer and love – not viral infections!
As your Public Health Officer, it is my goal to spread infection prevention words of wisdom, so you and people around you that may be more susceptible to severe illness can have the happiest and healthiest holiday ever. Thank you for doing your part to limit the spread of seasonal and other infections.
May your Holidays be delightful!
Noemi Doohan, MD, PhD, MPH
Public Health Officer, Lake County