Syncytial virus in newborns, the epidemic clogs hospitals

Syncytial virus in newborns, the epidemic clogs hospitals
Syncytial virus in newborns, the epidemic clogs hospitals

TURIN. It is alarm for the epidemic of respiratory syncytial virus that is affecting very young children throughout Italy, with pediatric wards and intensive care in hospitals full of infants and babies with bronchiolitis and pneumonia caused by the virus. In Padua there are 16 small patients, 4 of whom intubated in intensive care, “at the Policlinico Umberto I in Rome 10 hospitalized, of which 2, just one month old, in intensive care, but also in the other regions the situation is similar . An epidemic arrived 2 months early “, reports Fabio Midulla, president of the Italian Society for Childhood Respiratory Diseases (Simri), full professor of Pediatrics at Sapienza University and head of the pediatric emergency room at the Policlinico Umberto I in Rome, after hearing from Adnkronos Salute.

Among the children affected by this virus there is also Vittoria, the daughter of Chiara Ferragni and Fedez hospitalized and under observation. On Instagram the influencer posted this morning a message in which he reassures everyone: «He is fine and finally he feels stronger – writes Ferragni-. Now we just need his oxygen levels to return to normal. ‘ Then, the photo of the «awakening with Gino the balloon made by the fantastic nurses of the ward» and the appeal: «The Vitto is a rock, it gets better and better. Do not underestimate this virus that is around because it is an ugly beast. Listen to me”.

“The virus – explains Midulla – if contracted in the first months of a child’s life, it causes severe forms of bronchiolitis, with clinical manifestations in the lower respiratory tract, while in older children and adults it resolves with mild symptoms, such as nasopharyngitis, fever or cough . But newborns are often protected by maternal antibodies that ‘pass’ through the placenta. This time, however, it was not so – notes the expert – and the epidemic that usually arrives in December-January broke out 2 months in advance. We expected this because for a year and a half the virus did not circulate thanks to the anti-Covid measures (hand washing, masks and social distancing). But as soon as these measures were relaxed, the older siblings went back to kindergarten or school, and with a population without antibodies the virus began to circulate, immediately and earlier than usual, and is giving serious forms in the very young ” .

The pediatrician recalls that there is no specific vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus (Rsv – Respiratory syncytial virus), but “there are three trials in phase III of vaccines for mothers and therapies with monoclonal antibodies, indicated however only for premature babies and particularly fragile, such as heart patients “. While waiting for the maternal vaccines, “therefore, the main weapon remains prevention – specifies Midulla – which consists of precautionary measures such as hand washing, masks, disposable handkerchiefs to always throw in the garbage, distancing in the case of a sick older brother and not sending the children to school before they are healed ”, because they represent a source of contagion.

But what do babies risk, especially those who end up in intensive care? “Fortunately – explains President Simri – the risk of death, unlike in developing countries, is very low here, but the virus can leave permanent damage, starting with the development of adult asthma, which occurs in 50% of cases. Without forgetting – concludes the specialist – that treating these children, who occupy beds in pediatric wards and in intensive care, represents a very high cost for society, during hospitalization, but also afterwards. And to say that it would be enough to always follow simple hygiene rules ».

«Every year in autumn the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) arrives which fills the pediatric wards and constitutes a considerable danger for the weakest children – is the comment of the virologist Roberto Burioni on Twitter -. Unfortunately, against this virus (discovered in the 1950s) we still do not have an effective vaccine ».

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