Why is everyone getting sick all the time this year? Are we weaker or are viruses more aggressive? – WWN

Why is everyone getting sick all the time this year?  Are we weaker or are viruses more aggressive? – WWN

Of Silvia Turin

883 thousand Italians in bed, 25% more than last week. There is a feeling that this year there is a greater spread of respiratory viruses. It’s really like this? The role of the cold and how not to compromise our immune defenses

Respiratory viruses and flu-like syndromes are on the riseas is usual this season.

In the last week 883 thousand Italian
iani have been put to bed by respiratory viruses, 25% more compared to the previous week. Among viruses, the role of influenza viruses is growing and they are responsible for 22% of infections, as emerges from the report published on Friday by the surveillance RespiVirNet.

The incidence of influenza in the last week (11-17 December) rises in all regions. In six (Piedmont, Lombardy, Liguria, Emilia R., Tuscany, Marche) the “high” incidence threshold was reached and in Campania we are at the “very high” level, or over 19 cases per thousand assisted. Basilicata is the only one to have a very low incidence, under 3.9 cases per thousand.

There is a feeling that this year in particular there is a greater spread of respiratory viruses. It’s really like this? Why is everyone getting sick all the time this year? He answered these and other questions Fabrizio Pregliascovirologist at the State University of Milan.
«The very intense cold that we suffered has an action of reducing the capacity of the immune defenses, in particular on the respiratory tract because the cold, but above all the thermal shock which we subject ourselves to when entering a warm house, blocks the mucociliary clearance».

What is that?

«It is one of the protective elements of the respiratory tract, it is the continuous “washing and renewal” of the mucus that is produced at the level of the bronchioles. The vibrating cilia found on the respiratory tract act as if there were a paddle that renews this “sticky paint”. The thermal shock stops the vibrating cilia: the mucus slides, does not change and the virus penetrates.”

Is this why we get sick in winter?

«Yes and also because the cold has its own action, however indirect, of reduction of immune defenses, slowing down blood circulation and therefore the renewal of defenses, i.e. lymphocytes. Then there is the fact that we find ourselves in closed environments with poor ventilation.”

Is this perhaps the first year in which we have really returned to the habits we had before Covid?

«We are now in a year where there is a new normality, a total recovery and also unfortunately a forget of those provisions that have limited the spread of respiratory infections. The fact that no one is vaccinated anymore seems to me to be a sign of inattention. There is a tendency to remove that experience. On the one hand it is right and understandable, but precautions have been lost.”

Could the ease of getting sick also depend on what happened in Asian countries, that is, that people were in less contact with viruses?

«Yes, in a certain sense we are “making up” for lost years, especially childrenwho treated some respiratory pathologies in a “diluted” way.”

Is there an actual increase in infections this year?

«There is a tough flu season, somewhat similar to that of last year, but there are many infections of other viruses (such as Covid) which have been a bit “downgraded” because in most cases they do not create big problems”.

Can we make a ranking and put the virus that is causing the most problems in the emergency room at the top?

«There certainly is respiratory syncytial virus who is a protagonist compared to the others and then there was the
mycoplasma pneumoniae
in children. There are 263 types and subtypes of respiratory viruses, plus we have a notable share of Covid which has somehow become better but very present in quantitative terms.”

TOtrue or can having had Covid or other infections weaken you further?

«Yes, the previous respiratory infections they somehow worsen the response to other viruses which are therefore facilitated in a subsequent infection. Even bacteria, for example
streptococcus pneumoniae
spreads well thanks to a first infection that lowers the immune defenses, when we are in convalescence we are more fragile.”

How to prevent infections?

«On a physiological level, a healthy and balanced diet is important. The renunciation of smoking and perhaps the possible intake, for example, of vitamin B12 or vitamin C (once exaggeratedly recommended), which has its own anti-inflammatory and immune system stimulating action and then attention to temperature changes (as written above, ed)”.

So do the hat and scarf in front of the mouth make sense?

“Certain. They are important because they protect the upper airways and dressing like a bow is also essential with a view to prevention. Then the protection rules, such as the use of masks and the ventilation of the environments. Finally, the
recommended vaccinations
. It is right to enjoy the new normality, but to be calm we need to protect the frail and elderly with vaccination and swab them so that they can possibly use the antiviral drug against Covid.”

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December 23, 2023 (modified December 23, 2023 | 3:52 pm)

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