Srinagar: It is the sixth time this month when Aaminah brought her six-year-old son to the pediatrician’s clinic. The fever and cough keep coming back after a brief lull of three to four days.
“The worry lines on the child’s mother had increased. She felt her child had contracted some serious illness which was not the case. This is simply happening because of respiratory viruses in circulation nowadays. That said, it does not include the Covid-19 virus,” said Dr. Suhail Naik, lecturer of pediatrics at Government Medical College, Srinagar.
He added that the children were not going to school in the last two years owing to the pandemic. “Their exposure to such viruses was less. However, with regular classes taking place, their susceptibility to catch the viral infections has increased,” Naik said.
Consultant Pediatrics Department of health, Dr. Sartaj Ali Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor that due to Covid lockdown and mask mandates, the immune system of children wasn’t exposed to all these seasonal viruses from time to time.
“This is why we are seeing more intense and prolonged respiratory tract infections at present. Once a viral infection subsides, it leaves the infected person immunized. Every time a child presents with fresh symptoms of cough, cold, fever, and diarrhea it’s a new strain of the virus or new virus,” he said.
This time viruses circulating include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza virus, parainfluenza virus A, parainfluenza virus B, and Adenovirus.
Children below the age of 5 years are more susceptible but any age group may be involved depending upon the immune status. Some children with a chronic diseases like congenital heart diseases, kidney or liver diseases, or metabolic disorders are more susceptible and may need hospitalization, Bhat explained.
Bhat pointed out that most of the children present with cough, cold, fever, chills, severe sore throat, vomiting, and loose stools.
“Depending upon the type of virus children may recover ranging from a week to three weeks. Also, fever is the first symptom to subside. Cough and running nose may last for a maximum of 4 to 12 weeks,” he said.
Some general treatment guidelines to keep the infection at bay include drinking plenty of oral fluids and a balanced diet, rest, paracetamol, doctor-prescribed expectorants, and decongestants, in some children, Tamiflu, an antiviral drug can be given.
“Similarly, antibiotics are also indicated in some children which have superadded bacterial infections. Some sensitive children may develop a severe and prolonged cough and breathlessness which may require oxygen and nebulization,” Bhat said.