Respiratory illnesses that are making their way through Minnesota late summer and fall include a new COVID-19 sub variant.  Dr. George Morris from CentraCare joined me on WJON.  He indicates the XBB sub variant is similar to the one that made its way through Central Minnesota last summer.  Dr. Morris says it is the latest form of the COVID-19 Omicron virus infecting people across the United States.

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Dr. Morris says those most vulnerable to get severe symptoms from the XBB COVID Omicron variant are the very young, very old and those with pre-existing conditions.  He explains those who have had and recovered from previous COVID viruses have some protection but he still recommends people get an updated vaccine to increase protection from getting the virus and acquiring severe symptoms. The vaccine available this fall will protect people from the new XBB subvariant.

The symptoms of the XBB variant include a dry cough, respiratory nasal congestion, dry itchy eyes, stomach pain and diarrhea.  Dr. Morris says the symptoms are very similar to the Omicron symptoms.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) which tends to infect the very young which includes babies and those under 12 months of age.  Dr. Morris says there are some treatments they can give to babies to help protect them from RSV.  Dr. Morris calls last year's concerns with RSV significant.  He indicated St. Cloud Hospital and the State of Minnesota had discussions about what if their ICUs becomes overwhelmed with children.

Respiratory illnesses are expected to rise this fall and Dr. Morris says RSV, COVID and influenza will all likely be factors.  If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Dr. Morris it is available below.



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