This 1977 image depicts a photomicrograph of an unidentified tissue sample, that was been processed using the indirect immunofluorescent antibody (IFA) technique, and viewed under fluorescent lighting. Note the detection of what had been the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a negative-sense, enveloped RNA virus. The virion is variable in shape and size (120 - 300 nm), is unstable in the environment, surviving only a few hours on environmental surfaces, and is readily inactivated with soap and water and disinfectants.(Dr. H. Craig Lyerla/CDC via Bay City News)

The Marin County Public Health Department is warning the community about a surge in winter viruses and offering recommendations to protect families as the holidays approach.

The department said in a statement that local health care providers are seeing a spike in flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases, and COVID-19 cases are trending upward.

Officials said these three viruses circulating at the same time in Marin is beginning to strain the county’s medical system.

Marin County emergency rooms are seeing twice the volume of people with viral respiratory symptoms than they normally see this time of year., the department said. “RSV and influenza levels in Marin’s wastewater have more than doubled since the end of October.

Pediatric clinics and hospitals are particularly impacted by the surge, as RSV causes more serious illness in young children.

“During Thanksgiving and other holidays our social networks expand, creating new chances for respiratory viruses to spread,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer, in a statement. “In order to gather safely this year, it’s especially important to take the steps we know are effective and have control over.”

Marin health officials recommend anyone experiencing mild symptoms reach out by phone or virtually to their medical provider before traveling to a clinic or emergency room.

They also recommend people 5 and older get the updated COVID-19 booster and flu shot as soon as possible, especially those over age 50, who are at a higher risk for severe disease.