After a blank year due to Covid, the bronchiolitis epidemic, which could be particularly strong this winter, is already affecting 11 of the 13 regions of mainland France, and the last two, Brittany and Corsica, should soon join them, announced Public Health France, this Wednesday.
In its weekly update on this respiratory disease that affects babies, the agency notes a "continued sharp and early increase in monitoring indicators for bronchiolitis in children under 2 years".
In mainland France, all regions are in the epidemic phase, with the exception of Brittany and Corsica, which are in the pre-epidemic phase.
Children with less immunity
Common and highly contagious, bronchiolitis causes babies to cough and difficult, rapid, wheezing.
Most of the time benign, it may however require a visit to the emergency room, or even hospitalization.
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, there were only 1,779 emergency room visits of children under 2 years of age for bronchiolitis, and 643 hospitalizations.
Last winter, confinements and anti-Covid barrier gestures also blocked other viruses, including RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), responsible for bronchiolitis.
The children were less infected than usual and therefore have less immunity, raising fears of a stronger epidemic this year.
This phenomenon could also concern other winter viruses, including those of influenza or gastroenteritis.
Importance of barrier gestures
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 of weariness tends to generalize ”.
The flu epidemic has not yet started in France, where the vaccination campaign for people at risk began on October 18.
For the time being, 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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