The health authorities are sounding the alarm: after a blank year due to Covid, respiratory viruses should make a comeback this winter with a certain virulence. We already see it with bronchiolitis that affects children under two years old. In its weekly update published Wednesday, October 27, Public Health France notes a “continuation of the strong and early increase in surveillance indicators” of this respiratory disease.

It also indicates that eleven regions are now “in epidemic phase”. These are Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Center-Val-de-Loire, Hauts-de-France, Normandy, Île-de-France, from Grand-Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, Pays de la Loire and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur. Corsica is also entering a pre-epidemic phase when it was classified green last week, just like Brittany.

Common and very contagious, bronchiolitis is mostly benign, and can be treated with respiratory physiotherapy sessions. Vincent Kunz, physiotherapist in Roubaix is ​​thus on the front line, but this year “the activity is more important than the last ten years and arrives much earlier”, he judges in the 13H of TF1. “Usually it’s around November-December, but last weekend I had a dozen babies, that’s a lot starting in October,” he continues.

However, this respiratory disease may require a visit to the emergency room, or even hospitalization. Thus, during the week of October 18, 3,342 children under the age of 2 were seen in the emergency room for bronchiolitis, of which a third (1,138) then had to be hospitalized. In both cases, 9 out of 10 were less than a year old. Two weeks earlier, only 1,779 emergency room visits for children under 2 had been noted for bronchiolitis, and 643 hospitalizations.

This upsurge could be explained by the successive confinements and anti-Covid barrier gestures which have blocked all other viruses, including RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), responsible for bronchiolitis. The children were less infected than usual and therefore have less immunity. This phenomenon could also concern other winter viruses, including those of influenza or gastroenteritis. The health authorities therefore launched a campaign on Tuesday to recall the importance of barrier gestures (being masked, ventilating, washing your hands, coughing in your elbow, avoiding kisses and handshakes …), while “a feeling weariness tends to become general “.

For now, the flu epidemic has not yet started in France, where the vaccination campaign for people at risk began on October 18. Public health France only reports “sporadic cases of influenza since early September”. But the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned on Tuesday that “the upcoming seasonal flu epidemic could be severe for older people.”

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