In the midst of a new wave of the Corona virus, the world is facing another virus, the flu, which has returned to threaten Italy again with a sharp increase in infections that have already exceeded 800,000 cases and mainly affect children under five.
And the Spanish newspaper “El Messaggero” indicated that on November 17, daily infections with Corona in Italy again exceeded 10,000 daily cases for the first time in 6 months, at the present time, the situation is better compared to what is happening in other European countries, which have a lower vaccination rate compared to the Italian one. But concern is growing.
Children caught in the crosshairs of the flu
However, in recent weeks, doctors have indicated that the coronavirus is not the only epidemiological threat facing the country: since mid-October, Italy has been experiencing an influenza epidemic.
According to the latest influenza report issued by the Higher Institute of Health (ISS), the infection rate in the second week of November was 4.2 cases per thousand people, more than double the infections with the Corona virus.
There are other worrying factors. The International Space Station reports a total of 811,000 influenza infections since the start of the season, with particularly high numbers in Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. However, seven out of 20 Italian regions have not yet activated their influenza surveillance system InfluNet , so the actual number may be higher.
In addition, unlike the Corona virus, the category most susceptible to infection is the smallest. Between November 8 and 14, the incidence rate was 17.87 cases per thousand for children under 5 years old, while it was 4.47 cases for children between 5 and 14 years old, for adults between 15 and 64 years old, 3.63 cases and for those over 65 years old. 2.07
Side effect of anti-coronavirus measures
Also, comparisons with previous years are not reassuring. In the fall of 2020, when Italy was almost under siege to combat the second wave of the Corona virus, the flu gave way to the new intruder and almost disappeared, however, according to the Secretary-General of the Union of General Practitioners, Silvestro Scotti, according to the Italian portal Adchronos, this fall ” The initial influenza curve is four times higher than the average over the past 15 years.”
If a year later the disease comes back with such force, it is due to the side effect of the anti-coronavirus measures: with all the restrictions that were in place last year, the Italian population was unable to develop antibodies against the coronavirus.
Now her counterattack carries another risk: “If someone gets infected with the influenza virus, which can leave symptoms like coughing for a long time, and then catches corona, sneezing and coughing create the risk of spreading the corona virus further.”
The outlook for this winter is not very good. At the end of September, before the outbreak of influenza began, a virologist at the University of Milan, Fabrizio Brigliasco, predicted that the total number of infected people would be between 4 and 6 million people. The current rate suggests that it is a conservative expectation, especially if one takes into account that the spread of influenza accelerates with lower temperatures.
Weapons against influenza
In the face of the influenza epidemic, which previously caused between six and ten thousand deaths annually, doctors are proposing measures similar to those taken against Corona, which are to maintain social distance, use a mask, wash hands frequently, and ventilate indoor spaces.
But, as in the fight against coronavirus, the main weapon against influenza is vaccination. This winter, regions ordered about 19 million flu vaccines, which can be supplied with anti-coronavirus drugs.
According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Self-Medicating Medicines (Assosalute), more than a third of Italians are ready to be vaccinated against influenza and 80% now give more importance to their health and prevention than in current times. Corona virus disease.
It is expected, after the Corona plight, that the sounds of anti-vaccines will be heard and that those who plan to get vaccinated against influenza will do so for real.