Friday, April 19, 2024

Tonsillitis, colds, bronchiolitis … the return of winter viruses

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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Bronchiolitis as well as nasopharyngitis – the good old cold – tonsillitis, gastroenteritis and possibly influenza soon… the seasonal viruses that COVID-19 forgot are back with the cold season.

Everyone can see it these days in their daily lives, at work or at school: coughing, sore throat, runny nose or fever is increasing without necessarily being caused by Covid.

Increased consultations since early September

In mainland France, “the incidence of acute respiratory infections (fever and respiratory symptoms, editor’s note) in general medicine consultations has been increasing” since the beginning of September, health authorities note.

This could be explained by the spread of respiratory viruses other than SARS-CoV-2 responsible for Covid, they confirmed in the latest monitoring bulletin from the Sentinels Network of Physicians.

Has the general population’s immunity decreased?

The return of seasonal viruses makes sense at the beginning of autumn. But this happens in a specific context linked to Covid: last winter, due to confinement and strict compliance with barrier measures, these viruses circulated less than usual.

The result: “It is entirely possible that the immunity of the general population has decreased,” epidemiologist Sybil Bernard Stuklin explains in a video recently published by the French Public Health Agency.

“Because of this decrease in collective immunity to these viruses,” she continued, “this year’s epidemics may be more severe,” citing for example bronchiolitis or influenza.

“Neglect” at the level of barrier gestures

To avoid this, health professionals ask not to forget the barrier gestures, despite the decline in the Covid epidemic.

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“There is neglect, a lot of people have put that aside,” said Dr. Fabien Kochert, president of the French Association of Ambulatory Pediatrics (Afpa).

“You have to keep in mind basic barrier measures, like strict hand hygiene. It’s typical with a stomach: it’s the disease of dirty hands,” she adds.

The specter of influenza looms

“These daily actions, the fact that you wash your hands regularly, wear a mask – especially when you are indoors – and ventilate your home regularly or stay home when you are sick, are very important. Effective in combating circulation of these viruses,” notes Sibylle Bernard- Stoecklin.

Because far from benign infections, a potentially more formidable opponent looms large: the flu, whose season generally begins in November and December.

Therefore health authorities insist on the importance of vaccination for people at risk (old or frail), who are also the most vulnerable to severe forms of Covid.

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