Diseases that were contained in Covid are back
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The Covid-19 pandemic has eased in most of the world and with it, many social restrictions are implemented to limit its spread, as people eagerly return to their pre-lockdown lives.
But in its place has emerged a host of viruses that behave in new and peculiar ways.
Seasonal flu, commonly known as the flu. The 2020 and 2021 U.S. winter flu seasons were among the mildest on record in terms of both deaths and hospitalizations. However the case ticking in february and climb even higher in the spring and summer when Covid restrictions have been lifted.
“We’ve never seen a flu season in the US last until June,” Dr. Scott Roberts, associate medical director for infection prevention at Yale New Haven Hospital, told CNBC on Tuesday.
“Covid has obviously had a huge impact on that. Now that people are exposed, everywhere is opening up, we’re seeing the virus behave in very weird ways that haven’t been possible before,” he said. .
And the flu is just the beginning.
We are seeing behavior that is very atypical in some ways for some viruses.
Dr. Scott Roberts
Associate Medical Director for Infection Prevention, Yale New Haven Hospital
Respiratory syncytial virus, a cold-like virus that is common during the winter months, showed an uptick last summer, with increased cases in children in Europe, America and Japan. Then, in January of this year, an outbreak of adenovirus 41, which commonly causes gastrointestinal illness, became the obvious cause of a serious and mysterious liver disease among young children.
Elsewhere, Washington State has experienced worst outbreak of tuberculosis In 20 years.
And now, a recent outbreak of monkeypox, a rare viral infection commonly found in Central and West Africa, is confusing health professionals with more than 1,000 confirmed and suspected cases emerged in 29 non-endemic countries.
Viruses behave badly
At least two genetically distinct monkeypox variants The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that it was circulating in the US, likely stemming from two different diseases that spread from animals to people.
The World Health Organization note Earlier last week, the virus, whose symptoms include fever and skin lesions, may have gone undetected in society for “months or possibly years.”
A portion of skin tissue, taken from a skin wound of a monkey, infected with monkeypox virus, was seen at 50X magnification on day four of the rash in 1968.
CDC | Reuters
“Two strains could suggest that this has been going on longer than we thought. We’re at a worrying time,” said Roberts. He noted that in the coming weeks there will be an announcement about the activity of the virus, which has incubation period from 5 to 21 days.
It remains unclear whether the smallpox-like virus has mutated, although health experts have reported that it is behaving in new and atypical ways. Most notably, it seems to be spreading in the community – most commonly through sex – as opposed to traveling from the places where it is usually found. Symptoms are also appear in new ways.
“Patients present differently than we have been taught before, and note that some infected patients are ignoring initial flu-like symptoms and immediately developing a rash,” says Roberts. and lesions, particularly and irregularities, of the genitals and anus.
“There are so many unknowns that make me restless,” he said.
Limitation reduces contact, immunity
One explanation, of course, is that the restrictions caused by Covid and the wearing of masks over the past two years have created opportunities for other infectious diseases to spread the way they once did.
In places where viruses can get through, they are often overlooked because public health surveillance is largely focused on pandemics.
That was actually the case of the tuberculosis outbreak in Washington, according to local health authoritieswho said the similarities between the two diseases allow TB cases to go undiagnosed.
During the Covid pandemic, many children do not have access to primary care, including childhood immunizations.
Professor of Epidemiology, University of Delaware
Now that pandemic restrictions have been eased and normal routines resumed, retreating viruses have found a fertile breeding ground in new hosts. tourism and society.
The recent monkeypox outbreak is thought to have stemmed, at least in part, from two major events in Europea key WHO adviser said last month.
Meanwhile, two years of reduced exposure reduced individuals’ immunity to disease and made society as a whole more vulnerable. That’s especially true for young children – typically germ-amplifiers – who have missed out on the opportunity to acquire antibodies against common viruses, either through the mother’s womb or the early years of communication. society.
Childhood vaccinations are missed
That could explain the curious rise in cases of severe acute hepatitis in children, according to medical experts who are looking into possible links to Covid restrictions. .
“We are also investigating whether the increased susceptibility due to reduced exposure during the Covid-19 pandemic may play a role.” The UK Health Security Agency said in April.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also expressed concern that locking doors could put many children at risk missed childhood vaccinationspotentially increase the risk of other vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough.
Jennifer Horney, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Delaware, told CNBC: “During the Covid pandemic, many children lack access to primary care, including childhood immunizations.
“To prevent an increase in these diseases, global catch-up vaccination campaigns are needed,” she added.
Beware of surveillance bias
That said, there has also been increased awareness and surveillance of pre-pandemic public health issues, making it more common to diagnose some outbreaks.
“Covid has raised the profile of public health issues so we can pay more attention to these events as they happen,” Horney said, adding that public health systems established to identify Covid has also helped diagnose other diseases.
Professor Eyal Leshem, infectious disease specialist at Sheba Medical Center, agrees: “The general public and the media have become much more concerned about zoonotic and zoonotic outbreaks and infectious diseases.”
It’s not that this disease is more common, it’s that it gets more attention.
Professor Eyal Leshem
infectious disease specialist, Sheba . Medical Center
However, he also warned of the role of “surveillance bias,” whereby individuals and health professionals are more likely to report disease cases as they grow. That suggests that some viruses, such as monkeypox, may be evolving when in fact they have been reported before.
“It’s not that the disease is more common, it’s that it’s getting more attention,” says Leshem.
However, increased surveillance for infectious disease outbreaks is not a bad thing, he noted. With the increasing spread and mutation of infectious diseases – as seen in Covid-19 – there is increasing awareness and understanding of the changing nature of epidemics.
“Public and media attention will help governments and global organizations direct more resources toward monitoring and protecting future pandemics,” said Leshem, highlighting the study, which oversees the pandemic. monitoring and intervention are the three focus areas.
“These investments must happen globally to prevent and mitigate the next pandemic,” he said.