Spring has arrived, Easter is coming, but the climate doesn’t help turn respiratory diseases into a memory. Precisely coinciding with the Easter holidays and the cold weather that is affecting a good half of Italy (North and Centre), the warning from infectious disease specialists also arrives. The professor launches it Massimo Andreoniscientific director of Simit (Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases): “Especially last year the flu circulated until it opened, so it is there and is still circulating, as are also various respiratory viruses aided by temperatures that are still not spring-like – warns Andreoni -. The cold in fact creates the conditions, or rather predisposes to respiratory tract infections”. Therefore, the expert underlines, “be careful to protect fragile people above all”.

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These viruses are still circulating

How many viruses do we have in circulation these days? Or rather, which viruses should we be most wary of? The answer comes from Fabrizio Pregliasco, medical director of the Galeazzi Hospital in Milan. “Let’s say that we have gone through a heavy flu season, a trend that tends to decline slowly – explains Pregliasco -. Now we expect at least 300 thousand cases reported by RespiVirNet network and as many not reported to family doctors. I remind you that RespiVirNet surveillance is the integrated surveillance system (epidemiological and virological) of cases of flu-like syndromes and respiratory viruses (formerly InfluNet)”.

“So – continues Pregliasco -, during the Easter holidays and immediately afterwards, we will probably have around 600 thousand Italians affected by rhinovirus (colds), metapneumovirus (lower respiratory tract diseases in children), enterovirus (also vomiting and diarrhoea), adenovirus (also conjunctivitis and gastroenetheritis), Respiratory syncytial virus – Rsv (especially attacks the lungs of children and the elderly), a bit of flu and a tail of Covid”.

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“Possible serious effects on fragile people”

All these pathogens could infect people of all ages, but it will be above all children and the elderly who will suffer. In addition to fragile patients. “They will strike transversally, in some cases even with serious effects, also in terms of bacterial superinfections. I mean the fact that, in doing so, they can open the way to pneumococcus (streptococcus pneumoniae), the main cause of pneumonia – Pregliasco specifies -. Especially fragile people and children are at high risk.”
In this regard, Andreoni intervenes to highlight a particular aspect: “The many cases that are still seen of influenza (especially type B influenza) with even some hospitalizations, colds and even the syncytial virus in adults, are also due to the low vaccination coverage – he says -. It is clear that an Easter characterized by bad weather will facilitate family gatherings at home and not outdoors and this puts the fragile at greater risk, let us remember to pay a minimum amount of attention with them and with their elderly people”.
And he concludes: “Wear a mask? In other countries it is normal to use it in spring for pollen and also for the tail of respiratory viruses. Here, however, it suffers from the legacy of Covid. Many would have their finger cut off to avoid wearing it.”


Let’s move on to the symptoms. It must be said that between influenza and other viruses that have a link with it there is a difference in the symptoms of an impalpable gradation. In practice there is a very wide variety, but there is not a big difference between the two categories. The symptoms are therefore roughly those caused by the flu: cold, sore throat, fever, gastrointestinal disorders, bone pain, chills, general malaise. In all these cases the symptoms do not last more than five days and you just need to contact your GP to get a prescription for the treatment to be done. “Often the overlap with the flu suggests a mixture that pushes many to say ‘I had the flu’ even if it wasn’t”, underlines Pregliasco.

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What to do

Let’s say that a “cousin” virus of the flu has hit us. How should we treat ourselves? “The problem can also be treated with responsible self-medication – replies Pregliasco -. This means using symptomatic drugs that must alleviate the ailments without eliminating them: this is a key principle of responsible self-medication”.
To prevent the virus from taking over, the expert specifies, the symptoms must be alleviated “without completely erasing them”, so that the body can develop the right antibodies to fight the enemy and defeat it. “We are talking about active ingredients ranging from anti-fever, to acetylsalicylic, to ibuprofen and to nasal decongestant, alone or formulated in a mix, to other drugs aimed at specific symptoms – concludes the virologist -. The antibiotic, however, does not it should never be taken at first glance. And you need to pay attention in the initial four days: if things don’t improve you need to go to the doctor.”

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