Mumbai: There has been a spurt in viral infections among children across Mumbai. These usually last for 2-3 days and the fever and cough subside with minimal intervention. However, the city's private and civic-run hospitals have witnessed a 30-40 per cent rise in children visiting the OPDs as paediatricians in the city are reporting longer periods of infections, which sometimes extend to two weeks.
While hospitalisation is low, a majority of paediatricians have witnessed a doubling of children visiting OPDs in the past fortnight, with bad air quality and fluctuations in weather believed to be some of the reasons for the spike. These include children and infants with bad coughs and high-grade fever. In some cases, hospitalisation is needed if oxygen saturation drops due to bronchospasm or adenoviral infection.
Dr Tejal Shetty, consultant paediatrician, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, said currently they are seeing a large number of children suffering from adenoids and tonsillitis. The common symptoms include a sore throat, cough, cold, and in some cases, the absence of a fever. “We have also noted a higher rate of sinusitis and hypertrophy among children under the age of three,” she said, adding that anti-allergic medication, antibiotics, and in some instances, nasal sprays need to be prescribed.
According to Dr Tejal, parents must take steps to protect their children. “This includes avoiding crowded areas and making sure they wear masks when they are outside,” she said.
A senior paediatrician from a civic-run hospital said viral infections among children are common around this time of the year. However, this year, the magnitude in terms of the affected and the nature of the infection is different.
“Earlier, infections were more benign. In addition to repeated viral infections, some children are getting bacterial infections,” he said.
According to paediatrician Dr Bakul Parekh, the chilly weather, poor-quality air and a viral epidemic have resulted in unusually high levels of illness among city kids. “As many as 90% of cases I handle these days are related to the weather conditions. It's almost five times as much as the regular cases and much worse compared to previous years. I am even witnessing an unusually high number of Pneumonia cases.”
Meanwhile, health experts said the spike could also be seen as children were not exposed to viruses for about two years during the lockdown. Another hypothesis is the possibility that most children had been exposed to Covid and whether that is affecting their immune systems. Also, it needs to be studied if the viruses have become more virulent.
“When these children stayed indoors during the pandemic, they remained protected from these viruses while the natural infections they contracted are a way of developing antibodies. Now as they return to schools, they are exposed to multiple viruses in circulation. Some of the children had also missed out on routine immunisation and this is being cited as a reason for these multiple / repeated viral attacks,” said a doctor.
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