Warning to parents over surge in old viruses in kids that can prove deadly

Warning to parents over surge in old viruses in kids that can prove deadly

05/13/2022

CASES of viruses that can prove deadly are rising in children, and experts largely blame lower vaccination uptake.

Schoolkids and toddlers are not getting their jabs as frequently as pre-Covid times.

Threats are being recognised on a national scale by health chiefs, who have already given a number of warnings in recent months.

For example, measles vacation rates have dropped to their lowest level in a decade, the the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said in February.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says 95 per cent of people need to be jabbed against measles to keep control of it.

But the most recent figures from September showed that only 85.5 per cent of five-year-olds have had their two doses of the MMR jab – which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

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There were only two cases of measles in England in 2021, which experts have said is likely because international travel was shut down.

But “it is likely that susceptibility will have increased in recent years, with potential for larger outbreaks as international travel and contact patterns resume”, UKHSA said.

It has urged parents to check their child's vaccine records as a priority.

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The WHO has warned of the “perfect storm” for measles to spread worldwide.

It said cases of measles have increased by 72 per cent worldwide in the first two months of 2022, compared with the year prior.

NASTY BUGS

Viruses that can’t be vaccinated against have also jumped up, partly due to low immunity coming out of lockdowns.

Normally children would have contracted a number of bugs while at nursery and school, but they are now facing a sudden influx. 

For example, outbreaks of scarlet fever, or the so-called “Victorian” disease, have cropped up across the country.

Development of antibiotics has helped squash scarlet fever over the past 200 years. 

But UKHSA has reminded parents of the practises to prevent its spread; washing kids' hands, not sharing utensils and glasses, and catching coughs and sneezes.

Health officials are also trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious surge in cases of hepatitis in children.

Evidence is building that the liver inflammation is a result of a prior adenovirus infection.

Adenoviruses are common and cause things like tonsillitis and tummy bugs. 

But UKHSA is investigating whether a new strain of the bug is causing hepatitis in otherwise healthy young children.

Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at UKHSA, said: “We know that this may be a concerning time for parents of young children.

“The likelihood of your child developing hepatitis is extremely low. However, we continue to remind parents to be alert to the signs of hepatitis – particularly jaundice, which is easiest to spot as a yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes – and contact your doctor if you are concerned.”

Dr Tom Tasker, a GP from Salford, Greater Manchester, said his practice is seeing more parents opting out of vaccinating their kids. 

“I think this is an important point on childhood immunisation,” Dr Tasker told the Manchester Evening News.

“In our GP practice we are seeing more people choosing not to vaccinate their children.”

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Deputy mayor John Merry, who co-chairs the Health and Wellbeing Board alongside Dr Tasker, said more needs to be done to improve the knowledge in the community around vaccination.

He said: “I don’t think people understand how important vaccination is. 

“I think we need to get that across in more simple terms.”

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