UAE: Doctors see spike in cold, flu cases as kids return to school

Experts say the rise in diseases could be because most of the youngsters are engaging with other children for the first time in over a year



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by

Saman Haziq

Published: Mon 8 Nov 2021, 10:33 PM

Last updated: Tue 9 Nov 2021, 7:04 AM

With schools back to 100 per cent face-to-face learning for over a month now, some paediatricians in Dubai have seen a spike in cases of cold, flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses among children.

The infections are seen mostly in kids aged three to seven, the doctors said. The trend could be because most of these youngsters are engaging with other children for the first time in over a year, they added.

Dr Jamuna Raghuraman, paediatrician at Medeor Hospital, Dubai, said most of the children she had seen had infections of the lower and upper respiratory tract, allergies and rashes.

“Many are testing positive for influenza, while some children have certain allergies and throat infection. The most probable reason could be that the students are going back to school after a long time. The sudden external exposure after a long gap might be a crucial factor in triggering diseases among children,” Dr Raghuraman said.

The changing weather is also a factor, she said.

“For most of the days of the pandemic, the children were inside the house. So, sudden exposure to external environment could be the reason why they are easily getting sick,” she explained.

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Dr Rafia Owera, paediatrician and branch manager of Prime Medical Centre in Jumeirah Dubai, agreed that the rise in infectious diseases among kids could have been brought about by weakened immunity systems, owing to more than a year of staying mostly at home.

The most common infections the centre was seeing were bacterial infections, such as Streptococci infections that result in acute tonsillitis and pharyngitis, she said.

“We are also seeing a surge in influenza infection that spreads as the weather changes. Its symptoms are high fever, blocked nose, itchy throat, dry cough with vomiting,” Dr Owera said.

The moment a parent notices that his or her child is sick, necessary action must be taken.

Dr Raghuraman said: “First of all, it is our responsibility that we restrict the spread of the disease among students. Parents should not send their child to school if they are sick. This would help in controlling the spread of the infection. Also, parents should watch their children for symptoms. If a child is showing weakness, loss of appetite or other symptoms — it is most likely that they are ill.”

How to keep kids safe from diseases

Get them vaccinated against flu

If they’re old enough, they should also take the Covid jab

Take them to the doctor for a screening

Children who have not been screened by a doctor in the last year should be taken to the hospital for a physical examination. This would help in determining whether the child has any deficiency in terms of vitamins or minerals.

Make sure they’re eating nutritious food and getting their dose of vitamins. Vitamin C, D and zinc syrups can help boost their immunity.

They should get eight to nine of hours of good sleep at night

Encourage them to maintain hand hygiene in school and remind them to avoid crowded playgrounds.”

(As told by Dr Jamuna Raghuraman and Dr Rafia Owera)

Look out for symptoms

>> High fever

>> Breathing issues

>> Vomiting

If a child is experiencing any of these or other worrisome symptoms, take them to the hospital.

saman@khaleejtimes.com


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