Washing hands, self-isolating if one has symptoms and wearing masks — the protocol adopted during the Covid pandemic can be as effective in containing the spread of the current infections that are causing fever and respiratory distress and driving up hospital admissions, doctors said.
In many cases, children in the family are catching the infection from the elderly. Doctors suggest infected adults should isolate themselves till the symptoms persist to reduce the risks of the children getting infected.
The viruses responsible for the current spate of infections transmit in much the same way as SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid, and similar protective measures should help cut down the rate of infection.
Samples of 500 people suffering from fever and cough were tested at the ICMR-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in January. Of the analysed samples, 32 per cent were detected with the adenovirus, 13 per cent with the parainfluenza virus and 12 per cent with the rhinovirus, said an official of the institute.
Chandramouli Bhattacharya, an infectious disease expert at Peerless Hospital, said all those viruses spread when someone coughs or sneezes and through fomites (contaminated surfaces). The adenovirus has a greater chance of spreading through fomites than SARS-CoV2, he said.
“The mode of transmission is the same as the virus that causes Covid. People should wash their hands, should not touch their nose without washing hands and they should isolate if they have symptoms like fever, coughing and sneezing,” said Bhattacharya.
Prabhas Prasun Giri, a paediatrician at the Institute of Child Health, Kolkata, said many children were catching infections in school. “Annual examinations are under way in many schools. When one or more infected students are in the same room with others, the risk of the spread of the infection is high,” he said.
A teacher at a private school in southwest Kolkata’s Behala said a significant number of children in Class II were absent for a few days because they were running a temperature. Four of them have been admitted to hospital.
Doctors said wearing a mask in a crowded place could help prevent infection.
While many children are getting cured at home, a few of them are requiring hospital care. Some among them are in need of oxygen and ventilator support, too, said doctors.
Many of the paediatric critical care beds in hospitals are in use for treatment of children suffering from respiratory distress.
All 10 paediatric critical care beds at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital were occupied on Monday. A doctor said seven of the children were suffering from respiratory illnesses. At Peerless Hospital, all four out of six paediatric ICU beds had patients with respiratory distress.
At the Institute of Child Health, 10 of the 14 patients in the ICU on Monday were suffering from respiratory distress.