Kashmir Age

Kashmir children in grip of ‘unknown’ viral infection; doctors advise precautions

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Srinagar: An unknown viral infection has gripped Kashmir Valley where thousands of children are being taken to hospitals. However, doctors have advised parents not to panic as the infection could be seasonal and would go away with simple medication.

Meanwhile, 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 1,500 per day while the rush in causality department during night has gone up from 100 to 800,” said the medical superintendent of GB Pant hospital, Dr K K Pandita.

Pandita said the infection would go as the weather would start improving.

In every district, hospitals are flooded with children suffering from viral infection. Many parents have stopped sending children to schools. “I have three kids and all are suffering from viral infection. They are under medication and I have stopped them from going to school for the past three days,” said Altaf Hussain of Wagoora Baramulla in north Kashmir.

After complaints of this viral infection came from across Kashmir, the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) issued a public advisory asking people not to panic.

“Please stay home from work or school, if you are sick and limit contact with others to keep from infecting others,” reads the advisory.

“Viral infection is in the community for past 14 days. There is no doubt about it. We have sent samples to National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), New Delhi, to identify the virus,” said Dr Rehana Kousar, Epidemiologist Kashmir.

Dr Kausar advised parents not to send infected children to schools, which have become main source of spread of viral infection.

However, she said the infection has plateaued with the improvement in the weather.

The DHSK has given symptoms of the infection as cough, fever, chills, sore throat, headache, fatigue and runny or stuffy nose.

“For treatment people have been asked not to use antibiotics of their own and seek medical help,” reads the advisory.

Face masks are not necessary for general public, it said.

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 sour throat, cough, fever, diarrhoea and dizziness. It is a viral infection and has attacked mostly children,” several health officials confirmed to The Tribune.

Acute viral respirator-tract infection is a contagious illness that spread every year from October through spring season.  It is commonly caused by viral pathogens like rhinovirus and influenza.

Dr. Suhail Nayak, a paediatrician in Sopore sub-district hospital, said a few patients might need admission for hydration or fever control.

“People should not panic because it is not swine flu. They can manage their children at home by giving paracetamol and lots of fluids,” he said, adding that his OPD rush has increased from 100 to 300 per day.

Dr Nayak said a few pharmaceutical companies have started business out of the infection.

Dr Yasir Wani, a paediatrician in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, said parents could take care of infected children by giving antipyretic for fever and nasal decongestant for stuffy nose. “If your children have symptoms of the viral infection, better to keep them at home for a week till recovery. This will go a long way to prevent the spread of the viral flow.”

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