Health

Diseases suppressed during Covid return in new and peculiar ways

Diseases suppressed during Covid return in new and peculiar ways
Written by admin_3fxxacau

Ankle | time | Getty Images

The Covid-19 pandemic subsided in much of the world and with it many of the social restrictions put in place to curb its spread as people were eager to return to pre-lockdown lives.

But in its place have emerged a series of viruses behaving in new and peculiar ways.

Take the seasonal flu, more commonly known as the flu. The 2020 and 2021 US winter flu seasons were among the mildest on record, both in terms of deaths and hospitalizations. Yet cases ticked in february and climbed further in spring and summer as Covid restrictions were lifted.

“We’ve never seen a flu season in the United States extend into June,” Dr. Scott Roberts, associate medical director for infection control at Yale School of Medicine, told CNBC on Tuesday.

“Covid has clearly had a very big impact on that. Now that people have come out, places are opening up, we’re seeing viruses behaving in very strange ways that they weren’t before,” a- he declared.

And the flu is just the beginning.

We are seeing behavior that is very atypical in many ways for a number of viruses.

Dr. Scott Robert

Associate Medical Director for Infection Prevention, Yale School of Medicine

Respiratory syncytial virus, a common cold-like virus during the winter months, showed an uptick last summer, with cases rising in children aged Europe, USA and Japan. Then, in January of this year, an outbreak of adenovirus 41, usually responsible for gastrointestinal illnesses, became the apparent cause of a mysterious and serious liver disease among young children.

Elsewhere, Washington State knows its worst TB outbreak in 20 years.

And now a recent outbreak of monkeypox, a rare viral infection typically found in central and western Africa, is baffling health experts with more than 1,000 confirmed and suspected cases emerging in 29 non-endemic countries.

Viruses behave badly

At least two genetically distinct variants of monkeypox are now circulating in the United States, likely due to two different infections passed from animals to humans, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week.

The The World Health Organization has noted earlier last week that the virus, whose symptoms include fever and skin lesions, may have been undetected in society for “months or maybe a few years”.

A section of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey, which had been infected with monkeypox virus, is seen at 50X magnification on day four of the rash developing skin in 1968.

CDC | Reuters

“Both strains probably indicate that this has been going on for longer than we originally thought. We’re in a concerning time right now,” Roberts said. He noted that the coming weeks will be indicative of the evolution of the virus, which has a incubation period of 5 to 21 days.

It is not yet known whether the smallpox-like virus has mutated, although health experts have reported that it behaves in new and atypical ways. Most notably, it seems to be spreading within the community – most often by sex – as opposed to trips from places where it is usually found. Symptoms are also appearing in new forms.

“Patients present differently than we had learned before,” Roberts said, noting that some infected patients bypass early flu-like symptoms and immediately develop rashes and lesions, specifically and unusually on the genitals and stomach. ‘anus.

“There are a lot of unknowns that make me uncomfortable. We’re seeing behavior that’s very atypical in many ways for a number of viruses,” he said.

Restrictions reduce exposure, immunity

During the Covid pandemic, access to primary care, including childhood vaccinations, was unavailable for many children.

Jennifer Horney

professor of epidemiology, University of Delaware

Now, as pandemic-induced restrictions have eased and business as usual has resumed, the retreating viruses have found fertile ground among newly social, travel-hungry hosts.

The recent outbreak of monkeypox is thought to be due, at least in part, to two mass events in Europesaid a senior WHO adviser last month.

Meanwhile, two years of reduced exposure have reduced individual immunity to disease and made society as a whole more vulnerable. This is especially true for young children — usually germ amplifiers — who have missed opportunities to acquire antibodies against common viruses, either in their mother’s womb or in early socialization.

Missed childhood vaccinations

Walrus Pictures | Digital Vision | Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also expressed concern that the closures may have caused many children to missing childhood vaccinationspotentially increasing the risks of other vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough.

“During the Covid pandemic, access to primary care, including childhood vaccinations, was unavailable for many children,” Jennifer Horney, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Delaware, told CNBC.

“To prevent the increase of these diseases, catch-up vaccination campaigns are needed globally,” she added.

Watch out for surveillance bias

That said, there is also now greater awareness and surveillance of public health issues as a result of the pandemic, making diagnoses of certain outbreaks more common.

“Covid has raised the profile of public health issues so that maybe we pay more attention to these events when they happen,” Horney said, adding that the public health systems put in place to identify Covid have also helped to diagnose other diseases.

Professor Eyal Leshem, an infectious disease specialist at Sheba Medical Center, agreed: “The general public and the media have become much more interested in zoonotic outbreaks and infectious diseases.”

It is not that the disease is more widespread, but that it is attracting more attention.

Professor Eyal Leshem

infectious disease specialist, Sheba Medical Center

However, he also cautioned against the role of “surveillance bias”, whereby individuals and healthcare professionals are more likely to report cases of illnesses as they become more visible. This suggests that some viruses, such as monkeypox, may appear to be growing when in fact they were previously underreported.

“It’s not that the disease is more prevalent, but that it’s getting more attention,” Leshem said.

Still, heightened surveillance of infectious disease outbreaks is not a bad thing, he noted. With the increase in the spread and mutation of infectious diseases – as seen with Covid-19 – the more awareness and understanding of the changing nature of disease, the better.

“Public and media attention will help governments and global organizations devote more resources to monitoring and protecting against future pandemics,” Leshem said, noting that research, surveillance and response were three key areas.

“These investments need to happen globally to prevent and mitigate the next pandemic,” he said.

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