Are We Experiencing the ‘Tripledemic’ Here in South Florida?

Published on: 12/19/2022
Dr. Joanna Perdomo's headshot
By Joanna Perdomo, MD, MPH, FAAP

About Dr. Perdomo

In some parts of the country, medical professionals are raising alarms about what is being called a “tripledemic,” an occurrence in which outbreaks of three distinct viruses—flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19—are causing widespread illness. In some communities, hospital medical teams have been overwhelmed by large numbers of children (and adults) requiring hospitalization.

What’s happening in South Florida? While we are definitely seeing patients with all three of the viruses in our outpatient settings and hospitalizing some children with severe symptoms as needed, we are not encountering the same large numbers of affected patients as other regions. It may well be that our mild South Florida winter weather makes it possible for more of us to enjoy time outdoors, where viruses do not spread as readily. However, as more of us travel and gather for the holidays, numbers of cases could begin to rise. Here’s what parents should know.

About the Three Viruses

FluRSV and COVID-19 are viruses that can cause similar symptoms. Symptoms associated with each of the viruses (and the common cold) may include fever, cough, chest congestion, runny nose, sore throat, headache, and even diarrhea and vomiting.

If your child has any of the above symptoms, home care should include:

  • Give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen for temperature equal or greater than 100.4 F (38 C), sore throat or discomfort. Make sure you are using the correct dose for your child’s age!
  • Provide fluids to avoid dehydration: offer frequent sips of water, popsicles, and consider water with electrolytes if solid food intake is low
  • To help with congestion, you can create a steamy environment using a hot shower and then sit in the bathroom with your child for 10-15 minutes, and you can also use normal saline drops in the nose and a room humidifier
  • Use nasal suction to clear out nose and mouth of congestion before feedings or as needed
  • If your child is over 1 year old, a spoonful of honey may help soothe the cough (be aware of allergies) 

Why Some Children Get Very Sick and When to Seek Help

Some children and adults who are immunocompromised or who have chronic medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes, can get extremely ill when they contract one or more of these viruses.

Be aware of these concerning symptoms that should be brought immediately to the attention of a doctor: fast breathing, seeing your child’s ribs or neck tug in (known as retractions) or nostrils flare when breathing, excessive sleepiness, irritability, changes of the skin and nails color, inability to hold liquids and foods down, and not urinating or urinating in small quantities.



At the Nicklaus Children’s Pediatric Care Center, we recommend that children receive flu and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as other vaccines for childhood illnesses. Vaccines are well recognized for their ability to prevent common diseases and, in the cases of flu and COVID-19, reduce the severity of the symptoms associated with the viruses.  

Stay Home When Sick

Viruses are spread through airborne particles, so we encourage those who are experiencing symptoms to remain at home to limit the transmission to others outside the household.

Mask Wearing

While most communities no longer require the masks mandated during COVID-19, an N-95 mask can help protect the wearer from catching airborne viruses, which can offer protection to the wearer and others in the household who may be immunocompromised.

Hand Washing

When we touch infected surfaces and then touch our faces, we can spread the virus. Frequent hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent transmittable disease. Parents can set a great example by washing their hands frequently and encouraging their children to do the same.

© 2024 Nicklaus Children's Hospital. All Rights Reserved.