What is Adenovirus? How it wreaks havoc in India?

West Bengal has registered a total of 12,000 cases of Adenovirus from January 2023 to March, according to a report in Guardian. Nineteen children have died and several remain hospitalised owing to the highly contagious disease. 

The fresh variant of Adenovirus has caused thousands of hospitalizations in India. While the death rate is increasing gradually, Karnataka is also experiencing a rise in the number of cases. Although the affected states have yet to close schools, physicians recommend that parents keep their children indoors until the virus’s peak period is over. Children with weakened immune systems, particularly those who regularly suffer from respiratory illnesses or seasonal flu, are particularly susceptible to this new Adenovirus variant. Dr Sayan Chakraborty, a chest disease specialist at Kolkata’s Advanced Medical Research Institute, advises that youngsters displaying symptoms of cough or runny nose should stay at home or quarantine, while healthy children should take precautions such as wearing face masks and using hand sanitizers. Although most children have already contracted Adenovirus once between the ages of 0 and 10, with 90% of them recovering fully, new variants appear to have a more significant effect on health.

Adenoviruses are DNA viruses that usually cause mild respiratory, gastrointestinal, or eye infections. In at least 34 countries, Adenoviruses of various serotypes have been linked to liver inflammation or hepatitis in at least 600 children, according to a May 2022 Reuters report. However, doctors in West Bengal have not found Adenovirus-induced hepatitis in children. According to Dr. Sayan Chakraborty, a chest disease physician at the Advanced Medical Research Institute in Kolkata, West Bengal, the state is impacted by a distinct Adenovirus serotype formed by the merger of serotype 3 and 7. Chakraborty explains that Adenovirus has 50 different serotypes and that the new strain discovered in India is similar to Covid-19 variants.

The mode of transmission for Adenovirus is similar to that of Covid-19, where it spreads through close contact like shaking hands, as well as through airborne particles transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or touching an infected surface. Dr. Chakraborty recommends that children wear masks and wash their hands regularly to prevent the virus from spreading. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Adenoviruses are difficult to eliminate with standard disinfectants and can remain infectious on surfaces for extended periods of time.

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