Adenovirus is making children sick. Doctors advise taking precautions similar to CovidDoctors say adenovirus can cause pneumonia, ear infection and meningitis in some children and those with weak immunity can get severe.
Dr Rita Hamal, a consultant pediatrician, returned to her duty after five days on Monday after recovering from fever and common cold.
Hamal, who serves at the Chabahil-based Om Hospital, said that she could have been infected with the virus while attending to the patients.
“Lately, many children are being brought to the hospital with complaints of fever and cold,” said Hamal. “I myself got infected and returned to work today after five days.”
As Covid-19 cases are rising, a sudden rise in the number of children running a fever coupled with cold and cough has become a cause for concern.
According to officials, tests have shown many children have been infected with the adenovirus.
Although adenovirus is not a new virus and has caused infections in the past too, the spread of infection amidst the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is concerning, say child health experts.
Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that typically cause respiratory illnesses. They can cause common or flu-like symptoms, fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, eye infection, stomach pain, vomiting, frequent urination, burning pain while urinating, diarrhea and headache.
While children are vulnerable to infections from the adenovirus, even adults can get infected.
Pediatricians say that the virus for the last two weeks has been making children sick in many places across the country.
“In some schools, entire classes have been found infected with the adenovirus,” said Hamal, emphasizing the extent of the spread. “When a couple of children are infected, chances of the entire class catching the virus are high. The virus has not spread at once in all places but children from various schools have been getting infected one after another.”
On Sunday, Kanti Children's Hospital, the national referral center for treatment of children, sent swab samples of eight patients to the National Public Health Laboratory for testing, which showed four children (50 percent) were infected with the adenovirus.
Earlier, 12 out of 13 children taken to the hospital were found infected with the virus.
“More children are getting infected with the adenovirus these days,” said Dr Yuba Nidhi Basaula, director of the Kanti Children’s Hospital.
Viruses spread through person-to-person contact, respiratory droplets, and contact with contaminated surfaces
“Most of the symptoms of the infection of the adenovirus are similar to the infection of the coronavirus, which increases the chance of misdiagnosis,” said Basaula. “Two children had tested positive for Covid-19 a few days ago but they were asymptomatic.”
As the symptoms are similar to Covid-19 and there is no specific treatment for adenovirus infection, doctors say.
“As the infection has been spreading in schools and other clusters, it will be wise to shut down schools for a few days,” said Dr Ganesh Kumar Rai, chairman of the Nepal Pediatric Society. “Many schools have already halted classes and other schools, which have not yet stopped in-person classes, should halt them if possible to check the spread of infections.”
The society said that pediatricians serving in various places like Janakpur, Birgunj, Butwal, among others, have reported the spread of the adenovirus.
Doctors say infection of the virus can cause pneumonia, ear infection and meningitis in some children. Children with weak immunity—those suffering from heart disease, renal problems, HIV and cancer, among others— are at high risk of getting severe from adenovirus infection, they say.
“Though adenovirus infection is not as serious as the infection of the coronavirus, one should try their best to avoid infection,” said Rai, who is also the former director at the Kanti Children’s Hospital. “As the infection is caused by a virus, there is no role of antibiotics in the treatment. There is no need to get panicked, but one should take maximum precaution to avoid the infection.”
Coronavirus cases have been on an upward trend for the last two weeks.
On Monday, Nepal reported 895 new coronavirus cases—632 in 3,685 polymerase chain reaction tests and 262 in 2,224 antigen tests—with one death.
This is the 16th death in as many days.
Of the total infected people, 51 are under 20 years old. The number of active cases of Covid-19 stands at 4,934 throughout the country.
Doctors suggest taking precautions similar to those used in the coronavirus to avoid catching the adenovirus—avoiding crowds, wearing face masks, washing hands, and maintaining social distance.
Adenovirus symptoms may subside within five-seven days, but doctors suggest consulting doctors if the fever is too high and continues, if children have difficulty breathing and if children are less than three months of age with severe diarrhea, dehydration and reduced urination.