The pandemic left its mark in multiple ways – What the Robert Koch Institute report says
The waiting rooms in German surgeries are full at this time – patients are coughing, have a sneeze and often seem to be in a really miserable state. In accordance with Robert Koch Institute (RKI), more than seven million people contracted various respiratory diseases in a single month this year. And as a direct result, clinics are suffocating, often unable to cope with the situation.
The number of infectious diseases increases during the winter months, this is nothing new. This year, however, the number of patients is extremely high, as a result of which the medical and nursing staff are reaching their limits for another year.
Four viruses most prevalent in Europe at the moment
Today we know about 200 different pathogenic organisms responsible for the common cold. And according to the RKI, four of them are currently circulating widely in Germany and Europe: Influenza viruses, rhinoviruses, coronaviruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The latter may be particularly dangerous if it infects infants and young children.
Many of the affected infants and toddlers by the RS virus had complications so severe that patients had to be hospitalized or even intubated. In some regions of Germany, there are no longer any free beds in hospitals where children and infants could be treated.
Syncytial virus occurs seasonally and causes bronchiolitis, which mainly affects children under 24 months of age. The characteristic symptoms include fever and cough, while some children show symptoms reminiscent of whooping cough in case of infection. These may create more serious complications.
The pandemic has left its mark
During the pandemic, infections from common cold viruses were rare, as were infections due to syncytial virus. After all, at that time, most people reverently observed the protection measures and paid particular attention to the hygiene rules: Regular hand washing, masks, distances… As a result, it was not easy to spread neither the coronavirus, nor all the other viruses.
Many of the babies and young children have had absolutely no infections in the past two years and are getting sick for the first time this winter. All of these children failed to develop antibodies against RSV and many other cold-causing viruses. Now, as protective measures are gradually lifted, infections are returning – often with greater intensity.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, we are not yet done with infections, and in the near future the number of patients may increase even more worldwide – which of course will not only affect Germany. France, for example, already prepared an emergency plan for the bronchiolitis outbreak in early November. And perhaps other countries should follow suit.
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