The coronaviruses are still around as we head into the spring


As the country begins to thaw out in preparation for spring, COVID-19 cases are finally waning although other viruses are on the rise.
Data from WastewaterSCAN, a network run by Stanford and Emory University that monitors sewage for signs of disease, shows concentrations of the virus have ranged from low to medium in sites across the U.S. and evidence of infections is declining.
“We’re seeing a downward trend, which is fantastic,” said Marlene Wolfe, assistant professor of environmental health at Emory University and program director for WastewaterSCAN.
While the wastewater data suggests COVID-19 is easing up, it also reveals other respiratory and stomach viruses are picking up.
Experts say these viruses appear to be sticking around as the U.S. approaches warmer months.
Influenza: Is the flu still around?
Spring may be around the corner but the flu – specifically, influenza B – is surging.
While samples of influenza A have decreased since the winter-time peak, influenza B has been detected in 96% of samples, so far, in March compared with 66% of samples in February, according to WastewaterSCAN data.
While it’s normal for influenza A and B to peak at different times during the year, Wolfe noted that influenza B was nearly nonexistent last year.
Although it’s difficult to pinpoint why, experts speculate patterns were disrupted by social distancing and other mitigation measures taken to prevent the spread of disease during the pandemic.
During this time, viruses weren’t circulating normally because people stayed home and wore masks, impeding the transmission of COVID-19 and other contagious viruses.
The reappearance of this influenza B peak suggests common viruses in the U.S. may be returning to a more reliable, seasonal pattern, Wolfe said.
Parainfluenza: What is it?
Human parainfluenza viruses, or parainfluenza, has also peaked a few times this season, Wolfe said.
WastewaterSCAN detected the virus in 55% of all samples nationwide, particularly in the Midwest, Northeast and South.
The West is also experiencing an increase but not as significant as in other regions.
The wastewater data is consistent with clinical data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows positive tests for parainfluenza type 3 are on the rise.
Sheree Piperidis, a clinical professor of physician assistant studies at Quinnipiac University, says she’s seeing more cases in doctor’s offices.
Human parainfluenza viruses most commonly cause respiratory infections in infants and young children, according to the CDC.
Symptoms are typically mild and children usually can recover on their own at home.
In some cases, parainfluenza can cause more severe diseases, including croup, bronchitis and pneumonia.
With croup, the virus infects the vocal cords, windpipe and bronchial tubes, Piperidis said.
Children between 2 and 5 are more likely to develop these severe disease symptoms compared with other age groups.
There is no vaccine or antiviral that treats parainfluenza.
Stomach flu or bug: NorovirusNorovirus, often called the stomach flu or bug, is also on the rise nationally, Wolfe said, riding out a peak that began in early March.
The virus is the leading cause of foodborne illnesses in the U.S., and accounts for 58% of cases annually.
Experts say food typically becomes contaminated by infected people through preparation, not during the growing, harvesting or manufacturing processes.
The CDC reports about 2,500 norovirus outbreaks in the U.S. every year.
Outbreaks tend to occur between November and April but in years when there’s a new viral strain, there can be up to 50% more illness.
Norovirus causes over 100,000 hospitalizations and 900 deaths annually, mostly affecting adults 65 and older.
It’s also responsible for nearly a million medical care visits for children.
The most common symptoms of the illness are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.
Without available vaccines or antivirals, experts say prevention is the key to staying healthy.
Here are their tips:Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers; before eating, preparing or handling food; before touching common surfaces; and before caring for people who are sick.
The CDC says hand sanitizers can be used in addition to washing your hands with soap and water, but the solution doesn’t work well against norovirus and shouldn’t be substituted for handwashing.
Handle and prepare food safely by washing fruits and vegetables well, cooking oysters and other shellfish thoroughly and routinely cleaning and sanitizing kitchen utensils and surfaces.
It’s important to remember that norovirus is relatively resistant to heat and survives temperatures as high as 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prevent spread while camping or hiking by drinking and cooking with only clean water; keeping food away from bathroom areas, preparing and cooking food properly and washing your hands with soap and water.
Rotavirus: What parents should knowAnother stomach vir

Even though other viruses are on the rise, COVID-19 cases are finally declining as the nation starts to thaw in anticipation of spring.

Reliability of the virus has varied from low to medium in sites across the United States, according to data from WastewaterSCAN, a Stanford and Emory University network that monitors sewage for disease indicators. S. additionally, there is less evidence of infections.

“We’re seeing a downward trend, which is fantastic,” stated Marlene Wolfe, WastewaterSCAN program director and assistant professor of environmental health at Emory University. As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, hopefully that pattern holds true. “.

Wastewater surveillance passively gathers genetic material of viruses from people’s waste to create an image of the disease’s national prevalence, in contrast to testing surveillance, which depends on patients visiting doctors and reporting positive results.

Distinct respiratory and stomach viruses are emerging, even though the wastewater data indicates a decrease in COVID-19 cases. These viruses, according to experts, seem to be persisting as the U. s. approaching the warmer months.

Is there still a flu outbreak?

The flu, more especially influenza B, is on the rise even though spring is almost here.

According to WastewaterSCAN data, influenza B has been found in 96% of samples in March so far, up from 66% of samples in February. Samples of influenza A have declined since the wintertime peak.

Although influenza A and B typically peak at different times of the year, Wolfe pointed out that influenza B was almost nonexistent in the previous year.

Experts surmise that social distancing and other mitigating measures taken to stop the spread of disease during the pandemic may have disrupted patterns, though it’s difficult to determine why. People stayed indoors and wore masks, which prevented the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious viruses, so viruses weren’t circulating normally during this time.

The reemergence of this influenza B peak indicates widespread viruses in the U.S. s. might be reverting to a seasonal pattern that is more dependable, according to Wolfe.

What exactly is parainfluenza?

Moreover, Wolfe noted that this season has seen a few peaks for human parainfluenza viruses, or parainfluenza.

The respiratory virus, which causes symptoms like fever, runny nose, cough, sneezing, and sore throat, peaked in November of last year and is currently experiencing a significant resurgence that started in mid-February and hasn’t ended yet.

Mostly in the Midwest, Northeast, and South, WastewaterSCAN found the virus in 55% of the samples nationwide. There is an increase in the West as well, though not to the same extent as in other areas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s clinical data, which indicates a rise in parainfluenza type 3 positive tests, is consistent with the wastewater data. Professor Sheree Piperidis of Quinnipiac University’s clinical program in physician assistant studies reports that she is seeing an increase in cases in medical offices.

According to the CDC, respiratory infections in newborns and early children are most frequently caused by human parainfluenza viruses. Children can usually recover at home on their own when the symptoms are mild.

Sometimes, parainfluenza can lead to more serious illnesses like pneumonia, bronchitis, and croup.

As for croup, Piperidis explained that the virus affects the bronchial tubes, windpipe, and vocal cords. Compared to other age groups, children between the ages of 2 and 5 are more likely to experience these severe illness symptoms.

Parainfluenza cannot be treated with an antiviral drug or vaccine.

Norovirus is the stomach virus.

According to Wolfe, the norovirus—also referred to as the stomach flu or bug—is also spreading across the country as it exits a peak that started in early March.

The main cause of foodborne illnesses in the United States is the virus. S. and represents 58% of all cases each year. It is usually during food preparation that contaminated food comes from infected people, not from growing, harvesting, or manufacturing processes, according to experts.

The CDC records roughly 2,500 cases of norovirus in the U.S. S. each year. Although outbreaks usually happen between November and April, there may be up to 50% more cases of illness in years when a new viral strain emerges.

A norovirus typically affects adults 65 years of age and older, resulting in over 100,000 hospital admissions and 900 deaths per year. It is also the cause of almost a million pediatric medical visits.

The illness’s most typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Experts assert that the best way to maintain health in the absence of vaccines or antivirals is through prevention. Their advice is as follows:.

Before handling, preparing, or eating food, before touching common surfaces, and before tending to the sick, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. The CDC says hand sanitizers can be used in addition to washing your hands with soap and water, but the solution doesn’t work well against norovirus and shouldn’t be substituted for handwashing.

Cooking oysters and other shellfish to perfection, washing fruits and vegetables well, and routinely cleaning and sanitizing kitchen utensils and surfaces are all safe ways to handle and prepare food. It is crucial to keep in mind that norovirus can withstand temperatures as high as 145 degrees Fahrenheit and is relatively heat resistant.

When camping or hiking, avoid the spread of disease by using only clean water for cooking and drinking, storing food away from restrooms, properly preparing and cooking food, and washing your hands with soap and water.

Parental education regarding Rotavirus.

Rotavirus, which primarily affects infants and young children, is another stomach virus that is more common during the warmer months.

According to wastewater data, rotavirus first showed up in September at low levels but has since been rising to high levels, according to Wolfe.

Though illnesses can strike at any time of year, winter and spring see the highest number of cases. Additionally, the rotavirus formerly had a biennial pattern in which cases peaked every other year, usually in even-numbered years like 2024.

Nevertheless, similar to influenza B, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the trend for rotavirus over the past few years, according to Jeff Goad, associate dean of Chapman University’s School of Pharmacy and professor of pharmacy practice.

Goad, who will take over as president of the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases, remarked, “It used to be more predictable.”. We’re beginning to notice that eventually we’ll settle into a consistent pattern. ****.

In newborns and young children, rotavirus frequently results in severe watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can cause severe dehydration. Children in these situations frequently require hospitalization. More than 200,000 ER visits and up to 70,000 hospital admissions in children under five are attributed to rotavirus each year, according to the CDC.

Children under three months old who have not received vaccinations are the ones most at risk. Ninety percent of children are protected from the disease’s most severe symptoms and seventy percent from the illness itself by the rotavirus vaccination.

Adrianna Rodriguez works for the USA TODAY national team as a health reporter. Please reach Adrianna on X at @AdriannaUSAT or via email at

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