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Understanding Immunity Debt and How to Prevent Large-Scale Epidemics After COVID-19

After the COVID-19 epidemic slowed down, the world began to worry about the possibility of large-scale outbreaks of epidemic diseases such as influenza and enterovirus, which had a declining number of cases during the COVID-19 epidemic due to “immunity debt.” “PTV News” will give you an article to understand what immunity debt is and how to prevent it.

What is immunity debt?

In order to prevent COVID-19, the public wash their hands frequently, wear masks, and maintain social distance during the epidemic. As a result, the chance of contracting respiratory diseases and gastrointestinal diseases has decreased, which has also led to a decrease in the number of cases of influenza and enterovirus. When the epidemic prevention ban is lifted and people no longer comply with the epidemic prevention regulations, the virus will easily break out and make up for the number that was not prevalent in the past. This phenomenon is called “immunity debt.”

Does Taiwan have an immunization debt?

According to data from the CDC, the number of flu clinic visits last week increased by nearly 70,000 compared with the same period last year. The cumulative number of severe cases of influenza this year (2023) has reached 719, which is much higher than the total number of 22 cases last year. The number of emergency department visits for enterovirus in the week of September 10 was 12,982, an increase of more than 10,000 compared with 489 in the same period last year.

Judging from the data, the number of cases of various epidemic infectious diseases this year has increased significantly compared with last year. A doctor even tested positive for 6 types of viruses in a single day, which may lead to the emergence of immune debt.

What viruses should I watch out for?

The doctor pointed out that he tested positive for COVID-19, RSV, influenza A, adenovirus, enterovirus, and viral gastroenteritis in a single day. These are all viruses that require special attention in the near future.

RSV virus is a respiratory fusion virus. Typical symptoms include cough, runny nose, fever, etc. In severe cases, it may cause acute bronchitis, asthma attacks and infant asthma. Winter is the season when the RSV virus occurs most frequently. It is transmitted through droplets and is the main cause of severe lower respiratory tract infections in infants and young children.

The main symptoms of type A influenza include fever and respiratory symptoms, and a few patients will have gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting. The number of confirmed cases of type A influenza in Australia this year has reached a five-year high, and most of the cases are concentrated in teenagers and children. Different from the common cold, type A influenza is more likely to cause general weakness and the symptoms last longer.

Adenoviruses are viruses that infect human mucous membranes and may cause respiratory symptoms, as well as diarrhea, eye inflammation and rash. It usually occurs in children aged half to five years old. The symptoms are similar to those of a common cold, with high fever, cough, runny nose and other symptoms prone to occur. If adults are infected, the main symptoms include viral pneumonia, respiratory infection and keratoconjunctivitis.

Typical symptoms of enterovirus are blisters and ulcers in the mouth, palms, and soles, which may be accompanied by fever. The course of the disease is 7 to 10 days. It is a common disease in young children. It is a collective name for a group of viruses, including poliovirus, Coxsackie virus, enterovirus and other types. There are more than dozens of types in total. Adults can also be infected with enterovirus, but the symptoms are usually mild and not significantly different from a common cold.

The main symptoms of viral gastroenteritis are watery diarrhea and vomiting. There may also be symptoms such as headache, fever, abdominal cramps, stomach pain and nausea. Gastroenteritis symptoms usually begin 1 to 3 days after infection and can last 1 to 10 days. During the infection, you need to pay attention to a light diet to avoid irritating the gastrointestinal tract.

If the above symptoms occur, it is recommended to wear a mask and seek medical treatment at a nearby clinic.

How to prevent it?

Preventing epidemic diseases is similar to preventing COVID-19. We also need to wash our hands frequently, wear masks and maintain appropriate social distance.

Annual influenza vaccination is an important way to improve immunity. The protection period of influenza vaccine is short, usually only lasting 3 to 4 months. In addition to reducing the rate of severe influenza infection, the respiratory tract is often infected with 2 to 3 viruses at a time. Therefore, administering respiratory disease vaccines, including influenza vaccine, whooping cough vaccine, and pneumococcal vaccine, can also reduce the mortality rate of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today (27th) that starting from October 2, public influenza vaccination will be available in two phases; pneumococcal vaccine administration will also be opened in three phases. The CDC recommends that people receive the vaccine at different sites. It is recommended that the distance between the two shots be 2.5 centimeters or at intervals.

2023-09-27 12:11:00

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