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When influenza comes: Is Ukraine at the threshold of a large-scale epidemic?

Author : Iryna Shostak

Source : 112 Ukraine

According to the Ministry of Health, 142,659 people fell ill with acute respiratory viral infection (ARVI) over the past week, of which 60.3% were children
09:42, 30 January 2020

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According to the Ministry of Health, 142,659 people fell ill with acute respiratory viral infection (ARVI) over the past week, of which 60.3% were children. The intensive incidence rate is 21.7% less than the epidemic threshold in Ukraine. But while doctors, referring to these figures, say that the situation is not epidemic yet, from October and as of January 22, 11 deaths, caused by influenza, were recorded, and a large number of Ukrainian schools are quarantined.

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 epidemic season, the Center for Public Health (CPH) calculated the forecast of possible cases of influenza in Ukraine at 4.8-6.7 million people. Rising waves were expected in December and late January – early February, with a possible peak in the 4th week. But from the beginning of January, there has been an increase in the number of patients. For example, over the past week, the incidence of influenza and SARS in Kyiv has increased by 35.2%.

According to the CPH, from September 30, 2019, to January 19, 2020, more than 2.2 million people (6.2% of the population of Ukraine) fell ill with the flu, 67.113 people were hospitalized, of which 78.7% were children under the age of 17 years.

Epidezone influenza strains 2019-2020 in Ukraine

According to WHO estimates, this year, influenza viruses circulate in the Northern Hemisphere, similar to A / Brisbane / 02/2018 (H1N1) pdm09, A / Kansas / 14/2017 (H3N2), B / Colorado / 06/2017 (line B / Victoria / 2/87), B / Phuket / 3073/2013 (line B / Yamagata / 16/88). In other words, four strains of influenza are possible in Ukraine: Brisbane (Australia), Kansas (USA), Colorado (USA), Phuket (Thailand) - they have the names of the cities where they were registered for the first time.

Related: Ukraine ranks second among European countries in terms of cancer spread, - Health Ministry

Ukrainians already have immunity to one of them. For example, “V-Phuket” circulated last year, which means that many have already managed to get sick with it. Particular attention should be paid to the first two species, which are the most dangerous ones. They can cause complications such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the meninges), myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs), etc. It is also worth noting that these strains can affect not only people but and mammals and birds.

According to Alla Mironenko, the head of the department of respiratory and other viral infections of the Institute of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases (Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine), Brisbane is the most dangerous for people of working age, people with chronic diseases are in the zone of greatest risk. And Kansas is dangerous for the elderly (from 65 years old), pregnant women, people with obesity and pathologies.

According to the results of laboratory studies, Brisbane prevailed in Ukraine, as a result of the Texas strain, no deaths were recorded so far, but in 2018, America lost about 80 thousand citizens because of it.

The likelihood of an epidemic in Ukraine

The epidemic threshold for Ukraine and separately for each region is calculated annually. For the current epidemic season, the threshold is 476.7 per 100,000 of the population.

The following levels of intensity of the epidemic rise in the incidence of influenza are distinguished:

the average - 649.71 per 100,000 population;

high - 845.25 per 100,000 population;

very high - 921.59 per 100,000 population.

Related: Recorded three cases of suspected coronavirus in Ukraine, - Ministry of Health

As of January 22, Ukraine recorded 11 deaths due to influenza. Doctors noted that this happened due to the fact that patients did not come to hospitals in time, and also did not have vaccinations.

In particular, most of the dead were registered in the Zhytomyr region. During laboratory studies over the past 4 weeks, 75 such patients were examined in the region, of which 31 were confirmed laboratory-confirmed flu - pandemic influenza A virus (H1N1) - "swine flu" was detected in throat swabs. A week ago, the incidence rate in Zhytomyr was 32% below the epidemic threshold. And as of January 21, the level rose to 11%.

According to Flu and SARS in Ukraine newsletter for January 13-19, influenza and SARS are at non-epidemic levels in most regions, with the exception of the Ternopil region, where low epidemic activity is recorded.

But how long can this tendency be preserved, given the fact that in a number of cities indicators of the incidence rate are close to the epidemic level, and in some, they have already exceeded it?

In a number of regions of Ukraine, schools are quarantined. In particular, 59 schools of the Donetsk region are closed, seven schools of Volyn region, all schools and kindergartens of Berdyansk town (Zaporizhia region), 39 schools of Rivne region, and 15 schools of Sumy region.

However, the Ministry of Healthcare is reassuring, explaining that exceeding the epidemic threshold for the incidence of influenza does not mean the onset of an influenza epidemic. Most often, this is a typical epidemic rise in the incidence rate typical for the winter season.

Related: 11 people have died from influenza complications since beginning of epidemic season, - Center for Public Health

Prevention of influenza and SARS

From year to year with the beginning of the new epidemic season, doctors emphasize the importance of preventive measures (vaccination), as well as some preventive measures that can protect Ukrainians from the disease.

Here are useful everyday tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap, especially after contact with handrails, common objects, if you have no opportunity to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based antiseptic;
  • Dress according to the weather and keep your feet warm (the DSP also notes that overheating is just as dangerous as hypothermia);
  • Eat balanced, eat fortified foods;
  • Avoid contact with sick persons; keep a distance of at least 1 m from a person with signs of illness;
  • Ventilate the room more often, do wet cleaning (viruses do not like fresh air and die quickly in it);
  • Sleep well.

How to recognize a disease

In order to recognize the disease in time, you need to be guided by its symptoms, because different types of strains have their own characteristics of impact on the human body. For example, group A strains (Kansas and Brisbane), except chills, joint pain, sore throat, loss of appetite and fever up to 40 ºC (signs that are common for group B viruses (Colorado and Phuket) are associated with eyes pain, photophobia, nausea, and diarrhea.

Related: EU temporarily stops import of chicken meat from Ukraine due to avian influenza outbreak

To ensure the safety from complications and deaths, the Ministry of Health reminds to call an ambulance immediately if you notice dangerous symptoms:

  • dyspnea;
  • skin rash;
  • hemoptysis;
  • bluish skin tone;
  • vomiting and diarrhea;
  • chest pain;
  • pressure reduction;
  • slow heart rate;
  • arrhythmia;
  • impaired consciousness;

Delay in hospitalization can lead to the death of the patient.

Related: Ukraine conflict leaves 1.3 million in need of life-saving healthcare

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