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Health Experts Warn Against Delayed Flu Treatment for Children Amid Summer Season Influenza Spike

Representation for influenza infected kid | Credits: Getty Images

United States: The treatment for the children against the flu should not be delayed, warned the health experts. They have outlined that there is a high chance that the influenza season may witness a hike during the summer season. 

The warning has been issued by a respiratory expert from Hong Kong, who has shown concerns regarding influenza affecting the younger population. While addressing the concern, a professor of respiratory medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong – David Hui Shu-cheong, mentioned that the patterns followed by the seasonal influenza activity have changed due to prolonged mask mandates during the pandemic. 

While participating in an interview, he highlighted, “It no longer just comes between January and March and then goes away. Now, [the scale of infection] remains quite small but continuous,” according to scmp.com. 

Visual Representation for Influenza Testing | Credits: Shutterstock

According to the official data, related to the cases linked to COVID-19, the health experts have mentioned that the city recorded as many as 405 deaths on the flu season, including four (4) children. This data has been considered to be record breaking. 

Influenza – a threat to vulnerable populations! 

The concerns heightened following the death of the six-year-old baby was reported last week. As per the health experts, the baby died after contracting Influenza A and later developed complications from brain lesions.

In addition to this, six (6) patients – aged 58 to 94 – have been seeking treatment against the disease at Sha Tin Hospital. It is reported that one of the six patients is in a critical state.  

Health officials previously cautioned that the seasonal flu outbreak would persist at elevated levels for an extended duration. Hui remarked that cases of influenza A continued to climb steadily, showing no signs of abating.

He indicated that the ongoing winter season might extend into the forthcoming summer surge.

Visual Representation for flu infected kid | Credits: Envato Elements

“Preceding the pandemic, we witnessed a flu surge from January to March, lasting 10 to 14 weeks,” he elaborated, adding, “The peak typically occurred within the initial four to six weeks, receding to baseline levels between the sixth and eighth weeks, as reported by scmp.com. 

“However, this year, infections have persisted since the second week of the year.”

The respiratory expert urged parents to promptly seek medical attention if their children contracted the flu, emphasizing that delaying treatment could heighten the risk of potentially fatal complications.

“Our observations suggest that if severe cases receive Tamiflu prescriptions within 48 hours, mortality risk can plummet by 80 percent,” he noted, referencing an antiviral medication used for influenza treatment and prevention.

“Even if Tamiflu is prescribed three to five days after symptom onset, the risk of death can still decrease by 65 percent.

“However, efficacy diminishes if prescriptions are delayed beyond five days.”

Hui attributed the sustained surge in infections to the prolonged mask mandates enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited exposure to other pathogens and subsequently weakened immunity.

“We’ve been wearing masks for three years and haven’t encountered influenza viruses for a considerable period, resulting in diminished immunity,” he explained.

He also urged residents to promptly receive vaccinations.

“Only 47.7 percent of those between six months old and five years old have received a flu shot. The vaccination rate is about 51 percent for another vulnerable group, which is those aged 65 or above,” he said. He further added, “Both groups are more likely to develop severe cases or complications after infection, so we must try our best to vaccinate them,” as per scmp.com. 

He underscored that vaccination significantly reduced the risk of complications even if individuals contracted the virus post-vaccination.

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