In the first half of the year, an “unusual” increase in viral respiratory diseases in childhood was confirmed, according to a study conducted by the Italian hospital with patients from the city of Buenos Aires, the north and south of Buenos Aires and the city of San Justo. This is due to ” the high circulation of several viruses at the same time and the lack of antibodies in boys and girls to these agents due to the isolation due to the pandemic,” according to the specialists.
The work carried out by the Italian hospital specified that from January 1 to June 30, 94.3 percent of 456 samples analyzed for respiratory techniques from 406 patients under the age of 18 were positive for some virus.
The patients included in the study belong to Hospital Italiano, headquarters of the city of Buenos Aires and San Justo. “The most frequently isolated virus was rhinovirus, at 44.1 percent,” the study states.
This agent, they report, “is the primary cause of the common cold, whose symptoms include pharyngitis, rhinitis, nasal congestion, sneezing, and cough, sometimes accompanied by myalgia, fatigue, malaise, headache, muscle weakness, or loss of appetite.”
It was followed by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) at 17.97 percent, the most common germ that causes lung and respiratory tract infections in infants and young children, and metapneumovirus at 18 percent and 16.5 percent, respectively.
The study, called “Surveillance of respiratory viruses and evaluation of the utility of a method for rapid syndromic diagnosis (FilmArray Respiratory Panel) in pediatric hospitalized patients from two tertiary hospitals”, was conducted with samples of patients living in the city of Buenos Aires, South Zone, North and San Justo.
“This is a rate of positivity in respiratory viral pictures that we have never had before because it is usually much lower, at 60 or 70 percent,” assured the head of the pediatric infectious diseases unit of the Italian hospital and a member of the committee on infections of SADI, Analia de Cristofano.
The doctor assured that these data are consistent with those reported by specialists from the pediatric hospitals Garrahan, Gutiérrez and Pedro de Elizalde, who stated that there was a clear increase in viral respiratory cases in patients from these centers, with the same amount of virus simultaneously , and in the same period indicated in the study, through a meeting held weeks ago between professionals from these institutions.
Absence of antibodies
Regarding the reasons for this high rate of viral respiratory diseases in childhood, Cristofano pointed out that “it’s not about low defenses in childhood after two and a half years of the coronavirus, the concept is different.”
“Children have not generated specific antibodies against these agents because they have not been exposed for a long time to the wide variety of viruses that circulate every year because they do not have a private school; we are talking about viral conditions that cause coughs, colds, abdominal pains, diarrhoea,” he explained and warned that “many more viruses are circulating at the same time, which is not usual.”
What usually happens, the specialist pointed out, is that “there are cycles: in some months there is respiratory syncytial virus, in other months flu or rhinovirus”.
Another issue that has contributed to the increase in concurrent pediatric viral conditions is that “4- or 5-year-olds who could have been exposed to these microorganisms at three years of age when they started kindergarten were not, and this contributes to a more exposed pediatric population immediately.”
The average age of patients in the study was 2.52 years, 54% were male, and the average hospital stay was four days. “Only 5 percent of the results were positive for SARS-Cov-2, in contrast to the previous two years in which it was the predominant virus and only 4 percent of influenza A was recovered,” the study states.
Analyzing the patient history, 46.5% had underlying disease, 9.85% cardiovascular, 7.64% chronic respiratory, 7% hemato-oncology, 5.2% solid organ transplant and four percent liver disease.
67.8 percent had a history of previous episodes and 72 percent of patients required supplemental oxygen, while 25 percent required intensive care. In turn, 74 percent of the episodes presented as acute lower respiratory tract infections (IRAB), while 22 percent showed catarrh of the upper respiratory tract (CVAS).