Where did the flu and other seasonal infections go?

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Where did the flu and other seasonal infections go?
Where did the flu and other seasonal infections go?

According to Rospotrebnadzor, in 2020, the country had much less vaccine-preventable infections, such as whooping cough, measles, rubella, and mumps. There was also no seasonal flu epidemic. SARS receded into the background in France, Spain, USA. Statistics from around the world say that in the COVID-19 pandemic, a variety of airborne viral diseases have all but disappeared.

The mysterious disappearance of the flu

At the end of 2020, researchers from the US National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases announced an unprecedented decrease in the incidence of influenza. According to them, this seasonal infection in Americans was diagnosed 98 percent less often.

The death rate from influenza has decreased by almost 30 times. During the 2020-2021 epidemiological season, the country had 700 deaths from the infection, according to reports from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The usual figure is 20-30 thousand.

Similar data were released by the countries of the Southern Hemisphere, where the flu season falls in the summer. So, Australia is now the lowest incidence in five years. In May, only 71 people were diagnosed with influenza. For comparison, in the same period in 2019 there were more than 30 thousand.

The proportion of influenza-like illnesses reported in the United States in different epidemiological seasons. The epidemic season 2020-2021 is indicated by triangles. Data on it up to 29 weeks. The horizontal dashed line shows the baseline influenza incidence.

In Russia, according to the N.I. Smorodintsev of the Ministry of Health, in the epidemiological season of 2020-2021, only isolated cases of infection with this infection were also recorded.

Cleared field

It was not only the flu that passed the positions. French scientists have reported a tenfold decrease in the incidence of whooping cough. In Spain, the incidence of chickenpox and mumps has been reduced to a minimum. In some regions of the country, in particular in Catalonia, measles disappeared - not a single diagnosis in 12 months.

The situation is similar in Russia. In 2020, we were much less sick with all preventable infections - those for which there are effective and safe vaccines.

"The most pronounced decrease in incidence rates was observed for infections controlled by means of specific prophylaxis: whooping cough - 2, 4 times, measles - 3, 7 times, rubella - 14, 3 times, mumps - 2, 3 times, meningococcal infection - by 2, 2 times, chickenpox - by 40, 3 percent, acute hepatitis B - by 38, 5 percent, tick-borne viral encephalitis - by 44, 5 percent, "the press service of Rospotrebnadzor said.

Comparative data on the incidence of influenza and ARVI in Russian cities in the epidemiological seasons of 2019/20 and 2020/21. Data for the last epidemic season is available only up to 24 weeks. Horizontal green line indicates baseline influenza incidence

Most experts believe that this is the result of the fight against covid. Thus, Hong Kong scientists indicate that social distance, self-isolation, face masks, disinfection of hands and premises were more effective against seasonal flu than from coronavirus.

“In my opinion, there are several reasons. On the one hand, last year we had unprecedented coverage of influenza vaccinations. On the other hand, the restrictive measures introduced in the pandemic were effective for all infections. We were in self-isolation, we worked remotely. Plus, people began to monitor the cleanliness of their hands more. And we know that for most infections, the main entrance gate is mucous. In general, the mechanisms for the implementation of any airborne infection - be it covid, measles or whooping cough - are unambiguous. Therefore, masks, gloves, sanitizers could not do not influence the situation.By the way, not only respiratory infections, but also viral diarrhea, for example, rotavirus and norovirus infections, have become less sick in our country, "said Alexander Gorelov, deputy director for scientific work of the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in a conversation with RIA Novosti.

Fight for survival

Last fall, British epidemiologists suggested that if a patient becomes infected with the influenza virus, and then SARS-CoV-2, this will lead to a more severe course of the disease and even encephalitis - an inflammation of the brain tissue.

Time has shown that such a double infection is rare, which means that either the coronavirus suppresses the reproduction of most respiratory viruses, or they suppress it.

In addition, the causative agents of influenza and many acute respiratory viral infections are well known to the human immune system. Most people meet with them almost from birth. And SARS-CoV-2 is a beginner, the immunity to which has just begun to form in vaccinated and recovered. And this is its main advantage.

“Indeed, during epidemics of respiratory infections, other pathogens lose ground. This was the case in the influenza pandemic in 2009 and 2012, when the H1N1 virus prevailed. But in the current situation, vaccination has played a role. And it's not just the flu. from many other countries, in 2020 the percentage of vaccinated against measles, whooping cough, mumps, etc. did not decrease. We practically did not stop vaccinating children. Plus protective measures against covid, "Gorelov said.

According to him, so that the viruses defeated now do not take revenge, it is important to get vaccinated on time during the cold season, wear masks, use sanitizers and wash your hands more often.

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