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Bengaluru hospitals see rise in viral fever cases among kids

Dr Shivaprakash Sosale, an assistant professor at Vani Vilas Hospital, reported that their ICU and ventilators are currently predominantly occupied by children
Last Updated : 07 March 2023, 02:31 IST
Last Updated : 07 March 2023, 02:31 IST

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Pediatricians are reporting a concerning uptick in cases of viral fever and hospitalisations among children this year.

While there has been a gradual increase in cases since December, medical professionals now note a more significant incidence of adenovirus over the past two to three weeks with symptoms lasting much longer than usual.

Dr G V Basavaraj, national president of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, said influenza, including the current more prevalent H3N2 strain, typically causes upper respiratory tract infections and body aches.

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In contrast, adenovirus impacts multiple systems and can result in respiratory infections, gastroenteritis and conjunctivitis. However, Dr Basavaraj notes that body aches associated with adenovirus tend to be less severe than those experienced with influenza.

While both influenza and adenovirus have been circulating within the community for some time, medical professionals note that most patients’ samples are not typically sent for sequencing due to the similarity in managing viral fevers. However, doctors are often able to determine adenovirus based on patients’ symptoms.

“Across India, pediatricians say the course of adenovirus is unusual now — symptoms that usually resolve in two to three days are now lasting seven to 10 days with high-grade fever. This is due to the immunity gap in the last few years, as children were not exposed to common viruses,” he said.

Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) member Dr Rajath Athreya, who is also HOD Pediatrics at Sakra World Hospital, said they see at least 25 children with flu-like illness daily. “We have been seeing influenza cases from August. But in the last two weeks, 10-20 of the cases are probably adenovirus infections.”

Typically, only around one to two per cent of children with viral fever require hospitalisation, and they often recover swiftly without complications. However, the total hospitalisation numbers are notably higher when compared to both pre-Covid and Covid years, Dr Athreya said. “About four to five children with adenovirus are hospitalised at any time,” he noted.

Dr Shivaprakash Sosale, an assistant professor at Vani Vilas Hospital, reported that their ICU and ventilators are currently predominantly occupied by children whose viral fevers have advanced to pneumonia or sepsis.

Dr Sosale said these complications can stem from either the virus itself or secondary bacterial infections. “We have around four children on ventilators now, 30 to 35 in the ICU, and also children in the wards with minimal oxygen support. Children below 10, including newborns, are affected."

Dr Rakshay Shetty, head of Pediatric Care Services at Rainbow Children's Hospital, echoes concerns over influenza- and adenovirus-related complications, noting that many of their patients are experiencing prolonged fevers. Additionally, ICU admissions have seen an uptick due to pneumonia, with some cases requiring ventilators or even extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

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Published 06 March 2023, 20:42 IST

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