Chennai

Surge in viral infection among children

Weeks after schools reopened for this academic year, doctors are seeing a rise in viral infections among children.

Several hospitals and doctors in the city are receiving many children with symptoms of cold, cough and fever. While there is no reason to panic, doctors say it is better for such children to stay away from school and seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

At the Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children, a senior paediatrician said: “There has been a rise in cases in the last two weeks. Many children were away from school during the pandemic and they are getting exposed to viruses now. We are seeing children mainly with cold, cough, throat pain and fever,” the doctor said.

At Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital, S. Balasubramanian, consultant paediatrician, said there were more children with fever, cough and cold now than they usually see in June. “Usually, the cold and flu season is from September to January. Now, this has changed. Starting from April, we have been seeing quite a few children with cough, cold, fever, and many with wheezing due to viral infections. Probably, the coronavirus is being replaced with other viruses due to reduction in physical distancing, re-opening of schools and crowding,” he said. The unusual rains could also be responsible for the resurgence of infections, he added.

“If we test, a small percentage could be positive for COVID-19. But we do not recommend testing children with mild symptoms. Some parents take the test out of anxiety. We have had no severe COVID-19 in the last few months at the hospital,” he said.

Along with cold and cough, diarrhoea and vomiting has increased as well, possibly due to seasonal change, another city-based paediatrician said. “Most schools reopened recently, so there are more chances of cross infections. Most are self-limiting in a few days and do not require admission,” he said.

Vijayalakshmi Balakrishnan, senior consultant, Infectious Diseases, Kauvery Hospital, said many children reported upper respiratory tract infections (URI). “We are seeing two ways of presentation in children — stuffiness, sneezing, URI and headache, and sore throat along with high grade fever. Some of them do not have fever. So, we are seeing children with URI or flu-like presentations but there have been no major issues or paediatric admissions,” she said.

With children being the spreading factor, she said those with mild symptoms should not be sent to school. “Testing is recommended when there are classical COVID-like symptoms. It helps in isolation,” she said.

Dr. Balasubramanian said that parents need to be reassured and there was no need to worry. “Symptomatic treatment is adequate. With schools reopening, the viral infections are likely to go up due to less physical distancing and increased exposure. The warning signs include fever for more than three to four days, breathing difficulty, extreme lethargy, very poor intake and fever with rash,” he said.


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Printable version | Jun 27, 2022 11:13:44 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/surge-in-viral-infection-among-children/article65572112.ece