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Post-COVID, transmissibility of known viruses has gone up in Kolkata: Doctors

Kolkata: Viruses that are now in circulation in Kolkata are more transmissible than those in recent years, resulting in a wider spread of infections that are often persisting for a month and leading to hospital admissions, say experts.

One infected person is transmitting the virus to at least four others this time, say doctors. They claim the virulence is due to low immunity and weak post-COVID lungs.

Among the viruses that are doing the rounds now are adenovirus, influenza viruses, meta-pneumo virus, rhino virus and non-COVID coronaviruses.

“The viruses have been extremely virulent this time with infected people transmitting them very fast within homes, at workplaces, public transport and other crowded places. Going by the number of affected, it seems every infected patient is passing on the virus to at least four others. The reasons could be high viral load and COVID-induced drop in immunity,” said CMRI Hospital director of pulmonology Raja Dhar.

He explained that since transmission of most non-COVID viruses were blocked during the pandemic because people were using masks and avoiding contact, antibodies that develop from natural infections were wiped out. This probably made a large section vulnerable to viral attacks, especially the elderly and children.

COVID has left many with weaker lungs, say doctors

A third of Peerless Hospital’s 38-bed ITU are still occupied by acute respiratory infection (ARI) patients. The hospital also has around a dozen children with similar illness. So far, 17 cases of adenovirus have been detected at Peerless. “We are also getting parainfluenza, meta-pneumo and rhino virus cases,” said Peerless Hospital microbiologist Bhaskar Narayan Chowdhury.

He agreed that lack of antibodies was responsible for reduced immunity against these common viruses. “Even though every virus changes with each passing year, the remnants of the old antibodies act as a protection. But COVID protocol prevented infections and now we are left with nothing to fight these viruses. Also, this time we have had a spate of adenovirus infection which happens in a cycle of four-five years. The last such spate was in 2018,” said Chowdhury.

One of the reasons behind the virus spread could be that many were left with weaker lungs post-COVID, feels Apollo internal medicine consultant Syamasis Bandyopadhyay. “COVID may have left many with lungs that are no longer strong enough to fight viruses. This time, we have seen a large number of adults and children getting admitted with respiratory illnesses. In fact, several of our doctors and their family members are down with viral attacks,” added Bandyopadhyay.

Experts believe the viral attacks may continue till the middle of March when the mercury rises further. “It needs to get consistently warm for the viruses to die. The temperature has been fluctuating and even though winter is gone, it’s not very warm yet,” said Chowdhury.

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Author: DelhiStyle

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