West Bengal health department officials held a meeting at Swasthya Bhavan on Saturday, February 18, amid an alarming rise in cases of flu.

The health officials have asked the people to be alert as the infections are suspected to be caused by Adenoviruses, especially among children. According to officials, as many as 115 patients were admitted with respiratory illness in city hospitals till February 18. A total of 22 patients have been admitted to the ICU of which five are said to be children. 

Adenoviruses are contagious in nature and can spread rapidly when someone who has been infected coughs and sneezes. The droplets of an Adenovirus-positive patient can flow in the air and land on surfaces. 

While commenting on Adenovirus infections, the Director of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Dr Shanta Dutta, said, "We have found an alarming presence of Adenoviruses in swab samples tested in our laboratory. Around 30 percent of suspects’ swab samples have been tested positive since January. Most of the infected patients are children and the trend is really alarming."

All about Adenovirus infections

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that Adenoviruses typically cause respiratory illness, flu-like illness, and mild cold. Most people suffering from Adenovirus infection are showing several symptoms including persistent fever for more than three days, sore throat, diarrhea, body aches, and strained breathing patterns. 

The Kolkata city health officials have asked people with similar symptoms to be extra cautious. According to health professionals, young children are most vulnerable to Adenovirus, especially those who have low birth weight, chronic respiratory disease, neurological disability, renal disease, and malnutrition. 

Know about its prevention

In a recent meeting held by the state health officials to take stock of the Adenovirus situation, the district health officials were asked to be more vigilant. They have also received directions to be prompt in detecting children with respiratory illnesses. 

There are no approved antiviral medicines and no specific treatment for people with Adenovirus infection. However, people suffering from mild cases can implement home-based treatment. 

On the recommendation of medical practitioners, people with mild Adenovirus infection can track several factors including body temperature, hydration, breathing, and other respiratory illnesses. In the case of serious cases, hospitalisation is required. 

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