COVID-19, RSV, and Influenza – Oh My!

Thursday, December 15, 2022
Washing your hands prevents the spread of germs.
Washing your hands prevents the spread of germs.

You might be hearing about the “triple threat” of COVID-19, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and Influenza affecting many populations across the United States.  So how is this “triple threat” of illnesses affecting our local area?


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported positive cases of COVID-19 in Codington County have consistently increased, especially at the end of November.

A graph from the CDC shows the number of positive cases reported in Codington County from October 25, 2022 – December 13, 2022.


RSV is not a reportable illness in the State of South Dakota, therefore there is no report on RSV cases and rates, however, we can estimate that RSV is following a similar trend as Influenza and COVID-19 cases.


South Dakota’s Influenza summary for the week ending December 3, 2022, reported influenza activity at a “WIDESPREAD” level.  This is a change from a lesser “Regional” level the week prior.

For the week ending December 3, 2022, there were 628 more confirmed cases of influenza in South Dakota than the week earlier and there were a reported 80 new influenza-associated hospitalizations in South Dakota, which accounts for 45% of the total 179 hospitalizations so far this season.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best methods to protect yourself from COVID-19, RSV, and Influenza?

  • Vaccinations are available for both COVID-19 and Influenza. There are no vaccines for RSV.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Wear a mask in crowded public places or if you know you may be around someone who is sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and then was your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. You can also cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with these viruses.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.

How long after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, RSV, or Influenza could it be before I could show symptoms? Sick black woman feeling her forehead hot

Each of these illnesses have different time frames between when you are exposed to someone with illness and when you may start to have symptoms (this is called an incubation period). 

  • On average, COVID-19 is typically three to four days after exposure.
  • Influenza symptoms start to develop two days after exposure to the virus.
  • RSV symptoms start to appear around four to six days after exposure.

Can these viruses live on surfaces?

The influenza virus can live up to 48 hours after being left behind on a surface although the virus can only survive on hands for 3 to 5 minutes. 

RSV can survive for many hours on hard surfaces such as tables and crib rails, but lives on soft surfaces such as tissues and hands for shorter amounts of time.

How do you know if you have COVID-19, RSV, or Influenza

There are home testing kits available for COVID-19 that can be purchased at local stores and pharmacies.

Make an appointment with your physician to be evaluated for the need to be tested for a respiratory illness.  If you are having problems with severe shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, or loss of speech or movement, seek immediate medical attention.    

How can I treat the symptoms of one of these viruses? 

If you test positive for COVID-19 or influenza, contact your physician to see if you qualify for the anti-viral medications available. 

COVID-19, Influenza, and RSV symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications such as

acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and cough medicines, so you feel better (as allowed with any other medical conditions you may have). 

 Data for this article is referenced from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the South Dakota Department of Health.

Written by Shannon Britt, RN, BSN – Infection Control Coordinator at Prairie Lakes Healthcare System
Last modified on Thursday, December 15, 2022