The challenge is to identify the health risks that need to be supported with various systemic interventions. COVID-19 has revealed the real risks associated with infectious and non-communicable diseases, which include: failure to report patients for medical appointments and screening tests, diagnostics performed only in the advanced stage of the disease, and declining vaccination status of the population.
– said prof. Iwona Paradowska-Stankiewicz from the National Institute of Public Health – National Institute of Hygiene, national consultant in the field of epidemiology.
According to dr hab. Tadeusz Zielonka from the Chair and Department of Family Medicine at the Medical University of Warsaw, the functioning of health care in a pandemic has changed significantly. The previously used methods of assessing the patient’s condition and its monitoring (interview, physical examination and additional tests) often cannot be used, because a patient infected with SARS-CoV-2, staying in quarantine, can usually communicate with the doctor only through teleconsultation.
The expert noted that during a teleconsultation, the patient may not report all symptoms, depreciate them, or on the contrary – in nervousness, convey information incorrectly and exaggerated – such as the frequency of breathing per minute, which increases in a stressed person. That is why it is so important to measure the blood oxygen saturation and every patient isolated due to COVID-19 should monitor this parameter with a pulse oximeter.
Doctors warn that there may be more infections in the coming season than a year ago.
Prof. Iwona Paradowska-Stankiewicz analyzed the national epidemiological data on influenza and flu-like infections. They show that in the 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, the course of flu cases was comparable, while the 2020/21 season was very different from these results.
There was a big difference in the number of recorded cases of these diseases for epidemiological surveillance. The trend can be seen from the very beginning of the flu season, i.e. from September 2020. The season started with a lower number of registered cases, also the peak of the epidemic (January-March 2021) was low.
– emphasized prof. Paradowska-Stankiewicz
In the opinion of the expert, non-pharmacological interventions imposed in connection with the pandemic, i.e. interventions undertaken in connection with successive waves falling ill with COVID-19 actions, such as the introduction of a lockdown and the principle of “distance-disinfection-masks”, caused that viruses attacking the respiratory tract they had big problems finding susceptible people who could transmit the infection on.
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The national epidemiology consultant also cited data on the incidence ratio (number of new cases of a specific disease at a given time relative to the sample size) of diseases other than COVID-19 in the 2020/21 season versus 2019/20.
The data show that the incidence rate of influenza and influenza-like infections in 2020/21 was 0.44 versus 0.87 in the 2019/20 season, whooping cough 0.06 versus 0.55, chickenpox 0.25 versus 0.42, diarrhea viral 0.21 versus 0.55, and bacterial diarrhea 0.99 versus 0.88.
However, this does not mean that the flu and other infectious diseases are gone.
The upcoming flu season will most likely be tough, we have quite serious epidemic conditions for that. For example, the number of RSV infections this year is twice as high as last year, because the non-immune population has increased.
– said dr hab. n. med. Ernest Kuchar, head of the Pediatrics Clinic of the Medical University of Warsaw, president of the Polish Society of Vaccinology.
According to an expert flu poses a particular threat to the weakest: the youngest, the oldest and the chronically ill. The greatest number of children up to 5 years of age and people over 60 years of age go to hospital due to influenza. The oldest group is also most at risk of dying from influenza. Fortunately, vaccination helps prevent or at least reduce its course.
The flu is chasing us, as is COVID-19. If someone is susceptible to the flu, they are likely to get it. COVID, however, taught us something, we understood that mitigating the course of the disease is as important as not getting sick.
– emphasized dr hab. Ernest Kuchar.
Whooping cough – disease caused by toxins of the bacterium Bordetella pertussis – also has not disappeared. It is most severe among newborns and infants with only one symptom of whooping cough there may be apnea, trachycardia or cyanosis. The disease occurs also at a later age, also in vaccinated people, because vaccinations that are given in young children do not provide protection for life, and not everyone knows that adults can also get vaccinated.
In adults whooping cough it is called a “well cough” because tiring attacks of cough with apnea lasting several dozen minutes can last for several months. Every third patient requires hospitalization, and complications, including pneumonia, myocarditis, hernia, urinary incontinence, and even rib fractures affect more than 40 percent. people over the age of 60.
In the opinion of prof. dr hab. Aneta Nitsch-Osuch, head of the Department of Social Medicine and Public Health, the number of reports whooping cough cases among adults, it is significantly underestimated.
The underestimation is as high as 300 percent, because the diagnosis of whooping cough is rarely included in the diagnosis of an adult, and bronchial asthma or COPD are more often looked for.
– the expert assessed.
AIDS and HIV infection during a pandemic
Prof. dr hab. n. med. Brygida Knysz, vice president of the Polish AIDS Society, pointed out that while HIV infection itself does not increase the risk of a severe course of COVID-19, the course of this disease will be more severe in patients with immunodeficiency.
Meanwhile COVID-19 pandemic has caused, among others, in the world disorders in the use of antiretroviral therapy in the form of inhibitory drugs HIV replication. In Poland, there were also problems with diagnosing patients, and as a result, probably many new HIV infections have not been diagnosed, and access to specialist hospital care also leaves much to be desired.
Apparently, the number of infections and deaths from AIDS has decreased – but some patients in the pandemic have not been diagnosed, patients are not admitted to infectious wards, and when it comes to tests, fewer of them are performed.
– Prof. Brygida Knysz.
Source: Niezalezna.pl, PAP Mediaroom, Serwis Zdrowie