Adenovirus Outbreak Has Infected Thousands Of Children In India

An Adenovirus outbreak in India’s eastern state of West Bengal infected more than 12,000 children between January and March this year.

Adenovirus infection cases were also reported in other cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, and Jaipur, but the situation in West Bengal was dire.

Pediatricians say that more than 150 children have died due to Adenovirus infections and related complications.

National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Kolkata analyzed the genetic makeup of the Adenovirus samples collected from the affected children to ascertain the serotype of the virus.

Paediatrician Apurba Ghosh said that the Adenovirus epidemic has happened in West Bengal before but this year it is severe and the magnitude of the epidemic is unprecedented.

This infection is limited to the upper respiratory tract in older children and young adults.

It can spread further to the lower airways in children between three months and two years of age, causing adenoviral pneumonia.

Prabhas Prasun Giri, associate professor of pediatrics and in-charge of PICU, Institute of Child Health, Kolkata, said that adenoviral pneumonia severely affects the lungs and compromises immunity, which increases the chances of secondary bacterial infections and bacterial sepsis.

Doctors interviewed for this story said that babies born during the pandemic are habituated to living in a sanitized environment and have not acquired immunity to common infections.

Though the virus had mostly affected children below the age of two years, a teenager lost her life to an Adenovirus infection.

Then the adenovirus “Infection further weakened her respiratory muscles, preventing them from performing routine functions,” he said.

In Asia, large-scale adenovirus outbreaks have also occurred in China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Adenovirus is thought to be the reason behind the worldwide viral hepatitis outbreak last year because adenovirus remains the most frequently detected pathogen in tested hepatitis cases, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO added that assessing whether the rate of hepatitis cases with adenovirus infections is higher than expected in the population is challenging due to limited adenovirus surveillance in most countries.

Between November 2012 and July 2013, Singapore witnessed a marked increase in Adenovirus type 7 infections among children.

In November 2012, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore reported the first confirmed case of adenovirus type 7.

In the first large-scale study of adenovirus strains, researchers led by Duke-NUS Medical School studied more than 500 clinical samples, mostly from pediatric patients.

Based on the study results, the authors suggested that Singaporean public health officials and clinicians consider antiviral therapies and adenovirus vaccines.

Giri said that the development of the adenovirus vaccine must be seriously considered.

He pointed out that many repeat hospitalizations of children infected with Ad7 happen due to recurrent infections and post-infectious bronchiolitis obliterans, a severe, long-term respiratory condition, which has a poor prognosis and it adversely affects children’s quality of life.

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