Srinagar, Feb 20, KNT: An unknown viral infection has gripped Kashmir Valley where everyday hundreds of children are being taken to different hospitals.
However, doctors have advised people not to panic as the infection they stated could be seasonal and would go away with simple medication.
In the meantime, the rush of viral-infected children has increased manifolds at G B Pant, Kashmir’s lone children hospital. “There is a huge rush of patients these days. For past one week, the number of patients in Out Patient Department has exceeded by 1000-1500 per day while the rush in causality department during night has also risen,” said a senior official at the hospital.
He added the infection would go as the weather may start improving from March.
However, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) stated that Kashmir valley is witnessing increase in number of flu cases due to an unusual influenza B virus which puts children at higher risk of having a severe disease said.
“We have seen something this year that we haven’t seen in last 27 years which is increase in influenza B virus,” said DAK President and flu expert Dr. Nisar ul Hassan.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to influenza B virus and it can be fatal in them,” he said.
Quoting a study published in American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Nisar said influenza B virus kills proportionately more children than swine flu virus.
“CDC has reported that 70% of pediatric deaths this flu season so far were due to influenza B virus,” he added.
Dr. Nisar said the reason that kids are being hit hard this year is because the current influenza B virus hasn’t appeared in recent years, so children haven’t been exposed to it.
The older adults have been exposed to it more, they have got just more antibodies that protects them. “The last flu season where B strain was dominant was in 1992-93,” he informed.
“We see lot of kids in hospitals these days with flu-like illnesses; Dr. Nisar said adding that “more than 80% of flu cases in the valley so far were due to B virus in contrast to previous seasons when swine flu was the dominant strain.”
In every district, both district as well as sub district hospitals are packed with children suffering from viral infection.
Many parents have stopped sending children to tuition. “I have two kids and both are suffering from viral infection. They are under medication and I have stopped them from going to tuitions for the past five days,” said Sheeba Gul of Bemina in Srinagar.
A doctor at GB Pant hospital advised parents not to send infected children to tuition centers, which have become main source of spread of viral infection.
He also mentioned the symptoms of the infection as cough, fever, chills, sore throat, headache, fatigue and runny or stuffy nose.
Reports of thousands of children infected with this unknown virus, which is thought to be airborne, has come from all the districts of Kashmir.
“Out Patient departments in hospitals across Kashmir are flooded with children complaining of sore throat, cough and fever. It is a viral infection and has attacked mostly children,” a senior pediatrician at district hospital Pulwama said.
He added: “People should not panic because it is not swine flu,” he said, adding that his OPD rush has increased from 200 to 400 per day. (KNT)