Germany warns of virus 'more dangerous than Covid' – alarm raised as infections rocket

Nadhim Zahawi issues a warning over flu during the winter

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Germany’s largest children’s clinic, the Olgahospital at the Stuttgart Clinic, has reported an increase in respiratory diseases and RSV infections over the past two weeks. The number of children who have attended the hospital because of an infection has now almost doubled, compared to the usual seasonal rate.

Jan Steffen Jurgensen, Chairman of the Board at the Stuttgart Clinic, said: “Seasonally, in the summer, fewer children go to the children’s emergency room in the Olgahospital, typically around 70 a day, of which only about 20 percent normally have to be admitted as an inpatient.”

However, more recently the hospital has seen around 130 children admitted in one day.

On top of that, three children were treated last week, and the week before, for severe RSV infections.

Tobias Tenenbaum, Chairman of the German Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (DGPI), added to Mr Jurgensen’s comments by saying that “RSV is much more dangerous than Covid-19, especially for younger children”.

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The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is spreading in Germany. (Image: Getty)

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The virus can be dangerous for infants and older people. (Image: Getty)

The easing of lockdown restrictions meant that serious infectious diseases could spread much quicker among the population.

Some of those diseases are triggered by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

Most people recover within two weeks, but the virus can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.

READ MORE: ‘Tripple whammy’ of Covid and flu could push NHS to breaking point

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The guidelines recommend protecting children by taking prophylactic measures against RSV. (Image: Getty)

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than one.

Experts are now trying to find out the reason behind the massive surge.

Mr Jurgensen suggested that because the entire flu season was non-existent this year due to lockdown isolation, many children were not able to build up immunity.

He said that as schools and day centres reopen once again, “children are increasingly exposed”.

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Currently, there is no vaccine for RSV. (Image: Getty)

vaccine

Trials are ongoing with four vaccines already being in phase III studies. (Image: Getty)

In addition to that, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has warned that the public must brace themselves for an “increased disease occurrence”.

In a recent publication titled ‘Preparation for Autumn and Winter’ the RKI said that people should expect an increase in Sars-Cov-2, influenza and RSV due to reduced basal immunity.

The institute also suggested the joint occurrence of these infectious diseases could lead to a significant health burden, and that prevention and supply options should be ordered in good time.

The news comes after the number of babies and toddlers infected with the RS virus has risen dramatically in Switzerland, Israel and the USA.

The American health authority CDC had already sent out a warning at the beginning of June, in which it indicated an increased “inter-seasonal activity of the RS viruses” in some southern US states.

In Switzerland, the situation is similar with the Pediatric Society recording the highest number of cases to date in Zurich.

The number of cases in Switzerland increased to 90 in June from 10 in April, according to the Infectious Diseases and Hospital Hygiene Department.

The guidelines recommend protecting children belonging to risk groups by taking prophylactic measures against RSV.

These include washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding close contact such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils with others, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices.

Doctors have also noticed an increase in colds, but these are usually seen as a positive thing for the immune system.

Children whose immune systems were busy at an early age, for example, suffer less from allergies.

Currently, there is no vaccine for RSV, but trials are ongoing with four vaccines already being in phase III studies.

One is to be used to vaccinate older adults and the other to vaccinate pregnant women to protect their children with maternal antibodies.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

Harry Byrne

Harry Byrne

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