SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Doctors at Baystate Medical Center are busy dealing with cases of flu, Covid-19, and RSV, but they are putting a warning out there, people can become infected with all of these illnesses at the same time.

People can be infected with all three, influenza (flu), coronavirus (Covid-19) and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) which is called co-infection. That is when two or more infectious agents infect the same person at the same time.

“Co-infections have become a growing concern in recent months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Armando Paez, chief, Infectious Disease Division, Baystate Health. “And it is a concern for both adults and children who can develop simultaneous infections.”

Common colds tend to be milder with symptoms including a stuffy nose and sore throat. Fevers are more common with the flu and symptoms specific to COVID-19 include the loss of taste or smell. RSV symptoms include wheezing, a high-pitched whistling sound made while breathing.

COVID-19 Symptoms

• Fever or chills
• Cough
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Fatigue
• Muscle or body aches
• Headache
• New loss of taste or smell
• Sore throat
• Congestion or runny nose
• Nausea or vomiting
• Diarrhea

Flu Symptoms

• Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
• Cough
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Headaches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

RSV Symptoms

• Runny nose
• Decrease in appetite
• Coughing
• Sneezing
• Fever
• Wheezing

“Hospitalization is often required for those suffering from co-infections due to their more serious cases of illness,” Dr. Paez said, noting the rate of co-infections has increased significantly during this unprecedented health crisis.

According to Baystate Health, children under five with co-infections had about twice the odds of having a severe illness, that are more likely to need oxygen to help them breathe. Adults with co-infections have been associated with an increased risk of needing to be put on oxygen and higher odds of death.

To help prevent severe illness, stay on top of both the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, wear a mask in crowded or poorly ventilated public places, and wash your hands.

“Vaccination against flu and COVID-19, while may not completely protect adults and children from getting the infection, they will likely protect from getting very ill, particularly in the unfortunate event that you end up having both or one after the other,” he said.

Contact your doctor for treatment options if your symptoms warrant it.