Doctors unsure of virus infecting children in Nagaland
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Doctors unsure of virus infecting children in Nagaland

By Livine Khrozhoh Updated: Mar 16, 2023 2:32 am
Doctors unsure of virus infecting children in Nagaland (2)
Paediatric ward at Zion Hospital and Research Centre in Dimapur on Wednesday. (EM Images)

Livine Khrozhoh/ Menuse-O Max Khieya

No case of adenovirus infection has been reported in Nagaland till date despite neighbouring states like Assam reporting an outbreak of the disease, resulting in hospitalisation of children including those requiring oxygen ventilators.

An official from Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) under the department of Health and Family Welfare told Eastern Mirror on Wednesday that “there are no reported cases of adenovirus infection as per the available data” but there have been cases of seasonal flu among children.

Dr. Khriemenuo Koza, senior paediatrician at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK), also told this newspaper that there is a surge in flu cases among children.

“We are getting a lot of viral infection cases but we are not sure which virus is affecting our children,” said the doctor. “It could be either H1N1 or H3N2 or other viruses but we are not sure.”

Informing that a number of flu cases with symptoms like cough, cold, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting have been received, she advised the public to maintain personal hygiene, wash hands, wear face mask, avoid overcrowded places and take nutritious diet to stay healthy.

Asked if there were cases of children requiring oxygen at the facility, she replied that there were no such cases so far.

Meanwhile, a senior physician in Kohima described adenovirus infection as a “serious infectious disease” and that vulnerable groups susceptible to the infection are children aged five and below, as well as adults above 70 years.

The doctor also said that active chainsmokers are also prone to the virus, which causes respiratory diseases.

Doctors unsure of virus infecting children in Nagaland (2)
Paediatric ward at Zion Hospital and Research Centre in Dimapur on Wednesday. (EM Images)

‘H3N2 is a possibility’

Healthcare facilities in Dimapur including Nikos Hospital and Research Centre, Zion Hospital and Research Centre, and District Hospital Dimapur have also witnessed an increase in the number of children seeking medical help with fever, cough and cold symptoms.

Child specialist and Neonatologist at Zion Hospital, Dr. Akumtoshi, informed Eastern Mirror that about 25-30 children who come for check-up on normal days but the number has doubled over the last two-three weeks.

He said that ‘since H3N2 is a possibility as it is increasing in other parts of the country’ but they cannot ascertain the type of flu as testing facilities are not easily available.

The doctor said that most sick children were showing symptoms similar to COVID-19, rhinovirus, and seasonal flu, so it is difficult to ascertain the exact cause.

He added that symptoms overlap but most patients have high fever, sore throat and prolonged cough.

‘But it would be best to do the RTCP test and find out if it is H3N2, adenovirus or others,’ he shared.

He expressed hope that the state government will spread awareness and sets up places where people can voluntarily take tests for free or at a nominal charge.

When to seek medical help

Speaking about patients, the doctor said that the recovery process depends on the variants of the virus and immune system of the patients but it usually takes about a week or two with medication.

He advised parents to take their children to hospital for any cough and cold, citing a couple cases where children were diagnosed with pneumonia after taking x-ray.

‘Sometimes, it is difficult to diagnose just by looking at the patients and so some tests need to be done,’ he said.

The doctor advised parents to at least take their children to the nearest PHCs and get the help of the doctor. If the doctors think it is serious and unusual, they can go to the district hospital, he added.

He warned that there are some ‘danger signs’ in children like prolonged fever, seizures, breathing difficulties, lack of appetite, weakness and ‘lying on the bed the whole day’ that parents should take a note as it signal that something is wrong with the child and they need medical help.

With the increase in the number patients, he suggested taking precautionary measures like during COVID time, starting from hand hygiene and mask. People can take flu vaccine as it will cut about 50% of getting infected and it also covers H3N2, he added.

He said that the number of people taking flu vaccine has increased of late and that cases of sore throat and fever among the adults have also been reported.

Buying medicines over the counter

Dr. Akumtoshi shared that there are thousands of cough syrups in the market but the dosage and period for child can be recommended only after check-up. He advised parents not to buy medicines over the counter, saying that many medicines are severe side effect on children.

He also said that sometimes the cough is suppressed so much that parents think their child is getting better while the pathology inside might be getting worse.

Misuse of antibiotics

The doctor lamented the problem arising out of rampant selling of antibiotics by pharmacists in the absence of prescription, saying that it can cause antibiotic resistance later.

He said that hospitals have started using many expensive medicines or very strong antibiotics because of its rampant use.

He said that they had come across patients who were given high-end antibiotics, which can be used only in hospital ICU bed settings, by individuals at prayer centres and quacks.

‘It is absolutely illegal and not humane as well but it is happening in Dimapur,’ he lamented.

By Livine Khrozhoh Updated: Mar 16, 2023 2:32:23 am