Bassetti: “It took off like a rocket and it’s scary”
AND’ flu alert in Italy. The data from the Influnet report, 762,000 Italians in bed in the last week alone, tell us that “the flu she came back worse than she left us in 2019 and took off like a rocket, we are back to the driving force of the 2009 flu with high numbers leading up to the season. We already have important numbers at the end of November”. Matteo Bassetti, director of infectious diseases at the Policlinico San Martino hospital in Genoa told Adnkronos Salute. and also pneumonia – underlines the expert – Someone says let’s put the masks back on, I say absolutely not. These microorganisms must circulate and have always circulated, we must protect ourselves but how? For example, we have lost a lot of coverage for pneumococcus, pneumonia vaccination, but also flu vaccination.”
There flu curve” will continue to grow because this is only the beginning “, warns the infectious disease specialist. “Today the incidence is very high among young children, but where will adults and then grandparents arrive. Will the former lose a few days of school but will the grandparents end up in the hospital? The elderly – suggests Bassetti in conclusion – in these two weeks that separate us from Christmas, instead of running to get presents, run to get the flu shot”.
The data from the latest Influnet report, “confirm to us that also in Italy as in the rest of Europe we are recording a peak that particularly affects children, to which must be added bronchiolitis from respiratory syncytial virus”, Mariano Magrì underlines to Adnkronos Salute , pediatrician of the Prevention Department of ASL Lecce. “It is a wave of infections that is starting to put hospital pediatric wards and family pediatrician offices in crisis, especially in the north of the country – he adds – We cannot say that the cases are more serious or burdened with complications than the recent years, also because the balance sheets are made at the end, so we will have to talk about it again in the spring of 2023. But certainly the number of children affected by influenza viruses is far higher than that recorded in the last two winter seasons”.
“What we can say with certainty is that the flu epidemic it started earlier than usual – Magrì recalls – The Influnet report shows us that the levels currently recorded are those that in other winters (before 2020) were recorded during the flu peak. In the Province of Lecce), for example, we demonstrated the first cases already last August; subsequently, as it is obvious, with the arrival of the cold, the greater attendance of closed and crowded places, attendance at schools, have contributed to determining the situation we are observing”. (continued) Influenza: pediatrician Magrì, the wave that puts in crisis departments and doctors’ offices’ (2)
“Once again, the symptoms we expect are coughs, colds, headaches, muscle pains, but what we pediatricians fear is the onset of complications, which are always possible even in children – he recalls – Children definitely get sick more; it is true that grandparents pay the most, but complications can arise, albeit rarely even in children, affecting various organs, being able to determine otitis, pneumonia, encephalitis, myocarditis, so that even in children every year we record unavoidable deaths even in previously healthy subjects”.
“Vaccinating children, in addition to helping to significantly reduce the circulation of the flu virus for the benefit of fragile subjects to whom vaccination is primarily aimed, also means containing the huge costs of a disease that weighs heavily on the NHS but which has its repercussions social factors considering the working days lost by parents to look after their sick children”, concludes the pediatrician.
“The flu is a respiratory disease that begins as a trivial respiratory form: the child may have a little cough, cold, fever. The episode lasts a few days and then resolves itself. But in some children, especially in the smaller ones, signs of respiratory distress may appear with the child starting to have an increased respiratory rate; at the same time he begins to eat less with consequent compromise of the general health conditions”, adds the immunologist Mauro Minelli, responsible for the Southern Italy of the Foundation for personalized medicine.
“What we should pay attention to is basically prevention: avoid that adults or older siblings, if affected, can be in direct contact with young children; avoid secondhand smoke which can certainly worsen respiratory diseases in children ; continue, where possible, to breastfeed, considering this as the only direct protective mechanism that man can have against viral infections – advises the immunologist – If all this were not sufficient to prevent the child from affected by an important form of flu, what mothers should pay close attention to is the control of the little patient’s nutrition, because the first sign of an unfavorable evolution of the viral disease is the reduction of nutrition”.
Influence, the data
“In the week of November 21-27, the incidence” of the flu “is equal to 12.9 cases per thousand assisted (9.5 in the previous week), the estimated cases are 762 thousand, for a total of about 2,552,000 cases from the beginning of surveillance”. The Influnet report of the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) records it. The contagions are driven by children: “The pediatric age groups are most affected, in particular children under the age of five, in which the incidence is equal to 40.8 cases per thousand assisted. It was 29, 6 in the previous week”, specifies the Iss.
The incidence “in the 5-14 age group is 25.02 per thousand assisted, in the 15-64 age group it is 10.10 and among individuals aged 65 or over 5.04 cases per thousand assisted”.
There are three regions, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Umbria, that are most affected by the flu with “an incidence that has exceeded the threshold of a very high level”. In the Influnet map the three regions are highlighted in deep red. The provinces of Bolzano, the Veneto and the Marches have a red incidence, slightly below the very high entity level and at the risk of exceeding it. While three Regions (Campania, Calabria, Sardinia) have not activated Influnet surveillance.