Respiratory illness in northern China: 'Need for adopting respiratory etiquette to prevent spreading of bacterial infection', says expert

"The incidence of bacterial infections will not be as fast as virus infections...," says Dr P Prabhakar Varma.
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

VISAKHAPATNAM: The outbreak of respiratory illness in northern China has prompted health agencies worldwide to issue an alert to people.

Speaking to TNIE, Dr P Prabhakar Varma, assistant professor of Gitam Medical College and a community medicine expert, said though there is no immediate threat due to bacterial infection, there is a need for adopting respiratory etiquette to prevent spreading of bacterial infection in countries like India, which are susceptible due to its overpopulation and lack of proper public healthcare system.

Stating that mycoplasma pneumonia is a common bacterial infection that typically affects younger children and is likely to be what is affecting most of the patients under 18 years, Dr P Prabhakar Varma said high-risk people such as elderly, pregnant women, immunocompromised people, and people having respiratory problems, should take general precautions of maintaining social distancing, personal hygiene, and wearing masks, which are common for any respiratory diseases, to keep themselves safe from being affected.

Dr P Prabhakar Varma
Dr P Prabhakar Varma

During winter the prevalence of infections is more as immunity among people is relatively low, the doctor said and added that since it is a bacterial infection it can be tested whether it is responding to known antibacterial drugs in the country. “The study should also cover the rate and degree of incidence of the infection. There was not even one identified case in India, and China was yet to release a bulletin with the details of epidemiological features of infection and treatment protocol,” Dr Prabhakar Varma said.

“There are several risk factors due to poor health care structure, overcrowding and economic impact that should be taken into account and all precautions should be taken. The only good sign is that the incidence of infections was not due to viruses but due to bacteria,” he said and added that there are no drugs for viruses but available for bacterial infection in the country. 

“The incidence of bacterial infections will not be as fast as virus infections. There will be an incubation period for bacterial infection as its number should increase in the body and it will take seven to 14 days,” he said.

Speaking on the precautions that need to be taken by the people, he said, “Food supplements rich in Vitamin C and B will help increasing immunity.”

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