Kolkata: Children below two years of age are most vulnerable to Adenovirus but parents need not panic as 90 per cent of the cases are treatable at home, though precautions must be maintained, experts said. Renowned paediatrician Dr Arun Kumarendu Singh, associated with AIIMS, Jodhpur, said parents must ensure that their children wear masks and avoid crowded places.
“Unlike COVID, children below 10 years of age are susceptible to Adenovirus. Among them, those below two years of age are more vulnerable while those aged between two and five years are comparatively less vulnerable,” Singh told PTI over the phone.
Referring to a recent spike in Adenovirus cases in the country including West Bengal, in which children have been affected, he said there is nothing to panic as such a spike happens every year during season change from winter to spring.
Adenovirus causes respiratory illnesses
Adenovirus typically causes respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, conjunctivitis, bronchitis, or pneumonia.
In children, it usually causes infections in the respiratory tract and intestinal tract.
Singh said among toddlers below two years of age, Adenovirus causes infection mainly through the respiratory tract while children between two to five years of age develop an infection in their gastrointestinal tract leading to diarrhoea.
No specific treatment for Adenovirus infection
He said at the moment, there is no specific treatment for Adenovirus infection that causes cold or influenza-like illness.
“There are no approved antiviral medicines or specific treatment for those infected with Adenovirus. Around 90 per cent of the cases are mild and can be managed with over-the-counter fever reducers such as paracetamol, besides rest. Steam inhalation and inhaled or nebulised bronchodilator can also bring symptomatic relief,” Singh said.
He said a few severely affected children require hospitalisation and advised parents to keep an infected child with his or her mother to avoid psychological trauma.
“Children must wash their hands properly and should not go near those down with cough and cold,” he said.
Echoing Singh, the West Bengal Health Department said there is nothing to be worried about as the “situation in the state is under control”, amidst news reports of a spike in Adenovirus cases in the state.
32 per cent of samples since January have tested positive for Adenovirus
At least 32 per cent of samples sent to the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Kolkata since January have tested positive for Adenovirus.
Director of Health Services (DHS) Dr Sidharth Niyogi said precautionary measures must be taken to fight Adenovirus while advising people not to panic.
“Currently, there is nothing to be concerned about the Adenovirus spike in the state,” Dr Niyogi said.
The health official said the Adenovirus surge had gone unnoticed or could not be determined over the last couple of years due to the COVID pandemic.
“In the last couple of years, no tests were conducted to check for Adenovirus cases due to the raging COVID pandemic, because of which such cases went unnoticed. But as COVID has receded this year, such cases have resurfaced as people are undergoing tests,” he said.
“We are capable of handling the situation. However, as a measure of preparedness, we have issued certain directives to combat the virus,” he said.
The health department has asked all Chief Medical Officers of Health (CMOHs) and medical college authorities to check the preparedness by taking stock of oxygen administration equipment and paediatric ventilators.
The department has also recently issued an advisory asking people “not to send sick kids to school”, besides not to use antibiotics indiscriminately.