More respiratory diseases: children are catching up with colds

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More respiratory diseases: children are catching up with colds

Status: 03.10.2021 09:20 am

Many toddlers made it through last winter without the usual colds. The reason: the corona measures. Now a striking number of children and young people are infected. Doctors report catch-up effects.

For a few weeks now, many boys and girls have had respiratory infections that are only to be expected in the winter months. Those under the age of six are especially affected, Jakob Maske, spokesman for the Federal Association of Pediatricians, said the German News Agency.

Due to the closures of nurseries and other corona measures last winter and spring, they have not yet come into contact with certain pathogens. “The infections are now being caught up.”

Strong increase in hospital admissions

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reports a sharp increase in hospital admissions for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections among one- to four-year-olds. This upper respiratory tract infection can be particularly dangerous for premature babies and previously ill children in the first year of life.

According to the RKI, in the years before the pandemic in September, about 60 to 70 one to four year olds per week with severe respiratory infections were admitted to clinics, now there are twice that number. The RKI expects a further increase.

“Unfortunately, there is currently an escalation,” said Maske, who has a pediatric practice in Berlin. “We have a bit more sick children than usual at the time and fewer and fewer beds in children’s hospitals because there is a shortage of staff.” In the fall and winter, doctors care for seriously ill children.

Doctors advocate that children consistently go back to school and kindergarten and avoid “unnecessary sick leave.”

Image: dpa

‘Children’s clinics closed earlier’

According to Maske, it is already very difficult to place small patients in the hospital. Another reason is that too few pediatric nurses have been trained. “The children’s clinics closed very early,” says pediatrician Thomas Buck from Hanover, board member of the Lower Saxony Medical Association.

Larger outbreaks of RSV among children were reported in Israel in May and in the United States, Australia and Japan during the summer months. The RKI therefore warned in the summer to prepare for a similar scenario. “As a rule, children encounter RSV every year and build up a certain level of immune protection,” explain the RKI experts. This help in fighting off the pathogens is now missing because there were almost no RSV diseases due to the corona measures last winter.

Plea for more normality

The pediatricians are calling for the daily life of children and young people to be as normal as possible after months of hardship. It is often a difficult decision for parents to send their child to daycare or school with a nose or sore throat – keyword corona suspicion. “You have to make sensible risk assessments,” Buck said. “We want the children to finally go back to kindergarten and school and avoid unnecessary sick leave.” On the other hand, it is also about not overlooking a possible corona infection, if possible.

Concerned about the flu epidemic

From the beginning of October, for example, there will be more flu viruses circulating again. “We’re also concerned that there’s a flu wave,” Buck says. In the last half of the winter pandemic, with many hygiene measures and limited contacts, there was virtually no flu wave. Doctors hope that the willingness to get a flu vaccination for the coming season remains high.

In healthy children and adults under the age of 60, the flu usually progresses without serious complications. Therefore, there is no vaccination advice for them – but it is not advised against them either. In contrast, the vaccination can protect older people from severe flu courses and even deadly pneumonia.

The most favorable date for the vaccination is the period between October and mid-December, because a flu wave usually builds up at the beginning of the year. The Permanent Vaccination Commission (STIKO) generally recommends it to people age 60 and older, most recently with a high-dose vaccine.

There are also recommendations for pregnant women and people with chronic diseases. According to STIKO, vaccinations should also be given if there is an increased risk of occupational infections, for example among medical staff and in all facilities with a lot of public traffic. In addition, the vaccination advice applies to people who can infect risk groups, for example carers.

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