After a year with almost no infections from the flu or other viruses, colds and flu are back with a more virulent outbreak, according to the British Daily Mail.
According to Al Arabiya, some of the reasons are due to the fact that adherence to the guidelines set by the World Health Organization and special regional and local health authorities for physical distancing and wearing protective masks to protect against infection during the Covid-19 pandemic, which inadvertently led to a decrease in the ability of immune systems to fight germs and bacteria. On the other hand, with the start of the gradual easing of precautionary measures, the flu returned to spread again strongly after a year of relative safety.
Young children and infants are among the groups most at risk of infection with colds and influenza, which are transmitted spontaneously to their parents.
“Repeated exposure to many pathogens leads to activation of the immune system to be ready to respond and resist this pathogen,” Dr. Paul Skolnick, an immunovirologist and chief of internal medicine at Virginia Tech Carillion Medical School, told the New York Times. If they haven’t had this condition, their immune system may be a little slower to respond or not fully respond, which leads to an increased risk of some respiratory infections and sometimes longer or more severe symptoms.
The past year witnessed a marked decline in cases of influenza, rhinovirus, and other common viral infections, and even colds and influenza, which are caused by respiratory viruses, were almost non-existent in 2020 as they did not have a chance to spread from one person to another, but cases are currently increasing after the lifting of pandemic restrictions.
And the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that the RSV respiratory syncytial virus has spread extensively this summer across the southern states of America, which is rare, as it is usual to spread in the fall and winter months.
Some experts believe that as a result of this mutation, infections with RSV and other types of influenza are becoming more serious than before, with many suffering from strong and longer-lasting symptoms of infections compared to previous years.
This summer flu season is particularly dangerous for the elderly and young children, with respiratory syncytial virus causing up to 500 deaths annually among children under five and 14,000 deaths annually for people over 65 years of age.
According to “The Times”, New Zealand and Australia, two countries that were among the most successful in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, are currently witnessing a rise in RSV infections, and it has spread in New Zealand among children under the age of two, which has reached Some of them received treatment in hospitals.
“I have not seen anything like this in my 20 years of working as a virologist,” Dr. Su Huang, director of the National Influenza Center at the World Health Organization, said in comments published by the “Times” on the situation in New Zealand, noting that there is often a degree of pre-existing immunity. From the previous winter, but when there is no such natural immunity, it is like wildfire.
Experts tell The Times that the increase in infections among children is partly due to the fact that the virus now has twice as many new immune systems that have not previously been infected compared to previous years. It is likely that children, who were born last year, lack the ability of their immune systems to naturally fight infection with the virus because their bodies have not been exposed to many pathogens. The same applies to children born this year, whose immune systems are weaker because they are not yet fully developed and have not been tested.
Preventing these types of mutations is difficult although experts recommend following classic guidelines such as frequent hand washing and covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to combat the flu.
Wearing face masks in public may also be valuable advice for people, whose family members are more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, which is already commonly practiced in some Asian countries during flu season.