ALABAMA (WHNT) — Alabama health officials say they’re worried about what they are calling a “triple threat” — a rise in cases of COVID-19, flu, and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus.

The three illnesses could get much worse in the coming months.   

While a high number of cases usually start to go around in the late fall the United States has seen early surges, especially in children this year, and it’s putting a strain on some hospitals. 

Flu season is already off to an unexpectedly rough start.

An elementary school and the sheriff’s office in Morgan County were closed. Officials with Lincoln County Schools in Tennessee announced that schools and offices are closed. Pediatric hospitals across many states are reportedly at or near capacity.  

“It’s a little bit earlier than usual and there seems to be a higher number of cases for this time of year and that’s worrisome,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious disease expert with UAB Hospital.  

Doctors are now worried about the strain that these rising cases are putting on hospitals. In September alone, hundreds of positive RSV cases in children were logged. Dr. Claudette Poole with UAB Children’s Hospital says she expects that cases could triple before Thanksgiving.  

“We are anticipating sort of an increase in hospitalizations for influenza as well as RSV this season compared to the prior two years,” Poole explained. “That’s especially true for the children’s hospital but how long it’s going to last only time will tell.” 

RSV, much like the flu, presents symptoms of a cold: runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Doctors are seeing a surge like in previous fall seasons and expect that we will see another increase in cases over the next few months.  

Marrazzo is urging everyone to be prepared for a wave of hospital and doctor visits and the possibility of more closings. 

“When you look at the United States flu surveillance map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are in a very hot zone right now,” she stated. “Georgia and Texas a little bit higher than Alabama, but I think we are rapidly catching up. There is variation nationally in the number of flu cases, but I think it’s just a matter of time before other places catch up to us.” 

Currently there is no vaccine to treat RSV, but doctors say that getting vaccinated with the flu shot makes a big difference in being very sick with multiple symptoms.   

Doctors report that COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending downward, but that the threat still exists.