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St. Louis infectious disease doctors see cold cases on the rise

As residents drop their masks and return to crowded spaces, other illnesses begin to spread again. Still, experts recommend COVID testing for any similar symptoms.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis-area doctors report that they are seeing a rise in cold cases, as residents drop their masks and return to crowded spaces. 

"It hit us like a truck," Mark Freeman said of his recent illness.

Freeman is feeling healthy again after his whole family — including 1-year-old son Ben — started showing some familiar symptoms, listing them off as a "stuffy nose, sinus pressure, probably low-grade fever" but overall he "just felt miserable."

The Freemans got tested for COVID-19, for strep throat, but nothing came back positive. They had a severe cold, one Ben likely brought home from his day care.

"It was rough. It was definitely a wake-up call that we are still kind of getting used to all the bugs that are out there just because we have been quarantined for so long," Freeman said.

Dr. Steven Lawrence, a Washington University infectious disease physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, said the Freemans did the right thing getting tested, and their results —  a cold —  are becoming more common.

"Any symptoms that you develop during this time period, we should still get tested for COVID, because there's still enough of it around that we do need to take it seriously," Lawrence said.

Lawrence said it's important to consider keeping around some of the disease prevention techniques we all picked up last year as other disease rates increase, especially when the weather changes headed into flu season.

"We had a record-low number of flu cases. We haven't seen this little flu in a hundred years because of everything we were doing to prevent COVID," Lawrence said. "So this winter will definitely be worse, but how hard it will be is a little hard to predict."