How to distinguish syncytial virus from covid-19 in children? These are the key differences | Health & Wellness

After the increase and spread of respiratory viruses in children, the Government reported last Tuesday that the winter holidays would be brought forward a week, as a measure to prevent further infections and protect students. But, with Covid-19 involved, it is confusing to know if it is the virus, if the case warrants a PCR, or if it is just a simple cold.

There is no doubt that the circulation of the syncytial virus, among others, has once again put health services in Chile to the test during 2022. As is already known, the most affected have been children.

In this sense, and bearing in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, it is worth being clear about the keys to differentiating between these respiratory viruses.

The most affected during May and June 2022 in Chile have been children and infants suffering from syncytial virus, influenza A or parainfluenza. This forced health systems to reincorporate a greater number of critical pediatric beds. This was reported yesterday by the Minister of Health, María Begoña Yarza, and the Minister of Education, Marco Antonio Ávila.

Yarza specifically emphasized the concern about RSV in children under 6 months and children under 3 months due to influenza A or parainfluenza. “We have to continue installing vaccination in the pediatric population. We have to continue taking care of each other and taking care of our little ones and the population at risk and also take intersectoral measures, ”he said.

Unlike 2020 and 2021 -the first years of the pandemic- the appearance of these respiratory diseases was delayed by the confinement measures and the more intense care that was applied. However, after the lifting of the quarantines, the return to classes and the decrease in social distancing, the cases skyrocketed.

That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize when something that started out as a cold can become a concern. Especially if it affects minors, who are now the population at risk that most dismays the authorities.

How to differentiate syncytial virus from covid-19?

And Article published this month by the Government indicates that “according to the data registered by the Ministry of Health, in epidemiological week No. 22, 48.1% of the samples were positive for some respiratory virus.”

Of these samples,30% corresponds to boys and girls aged 1 to 4 years, the most detected being respiratory syncytial virus with 46.7% of cases“, they specify. And it is that to date, RSV is the main viral cause of respiratory infections such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia among girls and boys.

Also, like covid, it is easily transmitted and in almost the same way. “It spreads through droplets of saliva from symptomatic people for 3 to 8 days, and can last up to 15 days in the respiratory tract,” says the article.

The key aspect to differentiate it from the virus that caused a global pandemic, are the symptoms. RSV presents with runny nose, reduced appetite (in children and infants), cough, sneezing, fever, and wheezing. While covid-19 is characterized in particular by shortness of breath, fever, digestive problems, loss of smell and taste, dry cough and body aches.

Also, for RSV there is not yet a vaccine, so it is important to have the other injections. “It is more important to be vaccinated against covid to avoid simultaneous coexistence with other viruses, in the case of children over 3 years of age,” the article states.

If taking into account these aspects it is still difficult to notice the differences, the Government suggests that “when these symptoms appear, the recommendation is always to consult by calling Salud Responde 6003607777. Or to the Emergency Service of your Primary Health Care center as this Cesfam”.

When should you worry?

Claudio Cabezas, a kinesiologist specializing in respiratory diseases and an academic at the School of Kinesiology at the Universidad de los Andes, explains that these diseases are more dangerous in young children due to their physiology. This is because their airways are smaller and when they become obstructed they make it difficult for air to pass through.

“This obstruction is what generates the greatest respiratory difficulty in children,” he says. “For these cases, bronchodilators and inhalers are used, since an important part of the treatment is bronchodilation,” he adds.

Another key factor in preventing the infection from escalating, says Cabezas, is managing inflammation.. “These viruses cause inflammation of the mucosa in the airway, therefore, there is a reduction in the space through which the air must pass, for which treatment with corticosteroids is recommended.”

According to the expert, You also have to pay attention to the secretionss and for this he recommends respiratory kinesiology treatments. “They are the only ones effectively tested to keep the airway permeable, without secretions that are blocking the passage of air,” he says.

What are the other viruses like influenza A and parainfluenza?

Although cases of influenza A and parainfluenza are lower compared to syncytial virus, it is important to be informed. Especially since both are prone to being confused with common colds.

A statement published by the Universidad de los Andes Clinic, reports that “at the moment, type A influenza is circulating” which “is known as the flu and corresponds to a viral infection.”

The symptoms that manifest it are mainly a very acute and sudden picture of fever, tiredness, chills and decay, muscle aches and headache. All this accompanied by cough, sore throat and nasal congestion.

It can be confused with a cold. However, if it worsens, respiratory problems such as pneumonia, obstructive bronchitis, respiratory failure may occur., among others”, they clarify. To prevent it, annual vaccination is necessary.

As for parainfluenza, point out that “it is a group of viruses that cause different respiratory diseasesespecially in children under five years of age. An increase in cases has been reported since May.”

This is treatable with symptom management and medical recommendations depending on what kind of infection is detected. “It can manifest with mild or strong cough, runny nose, fever, hoarseness, dysphonia, wheezing, shortness of breath, including vomiting, diarrhea and lack of appetite,” the statement says.

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