This year Flu season It’s getting particularly bad with the current weekly number of cases being extremely high. Meanwhile, the doctors are watching Increase in respiratory syncytial virusCommonly known as RSV, it generally causes mild, flu-like symptoms in adults, but can be especially dangerous for young children and the elderly. This caused an unusual increase in RSV High number of hospitals, mostly in young children. These influenza and RSV infections occur earlier in the year, and at higher levels than usual.
There are many unknowns as to why influenza and RSV are at unusually high levels. However, one thing is certain: “Just because we’re wearing masks all the time doesn’t mean we’re compromising our immune system,” he said. Raywat DeonandanEpidemiologist at the University of Ottawa. “Your immune system is not like a muscle. If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
If the culprit isn’t that we’ve been wearing masks for an entire year, then what do we know about the higher-than-usual flu and RSV season this year?
How does our immune system work?
Even when we are not sick, our immune system is being used more than we know. “Our immune system is not dying, it is not weakening, it is working every day,” he said Sabina Vora-MillerFounder Unequivocal science. Vora Miller points out that although respiratory viruses such as the flu have decreased during the 2020-2021 season, our immune systems are constantly being exposed to pathogens in food and water, most of which are never harmful. In pain.
Our immune system also has a very long memory, where it “works like a photo system,” said Colin FurnessEpidemiologist at the University of Toronto. “It’s very permanent.” Our immune system learns how to recognize specific infectious agents it has seen before.
As we age, our immune system begins to decline, just like how photographs age. But, “in children and healthy adults, unless you have some sort of immune problem, those photos stay pretty much intact,” Furness said. “It doesn’t matter if you haven’t had a cold in years, your body will react to a cold the last time it reacted.”
A virus like influenza can evade the immune system only by mutating to an undetectable level, while viruses and pathogens that don’t change much like measles or chicken pox are immune. Even if years pass, the next time exposure occurs, the system will be able to deal with it.
Flu and RSV are seasonal.
Although not being exposed to respiratory viruses for a year does not affect a person’s immune system, the unusually low number of cases in the 2020-2021 season may be part of the reason we see such high numbers of flu and RSV. “There’s some truth to the idea that there are epidemics that prevent all kinds of respiratory disease, that we’re seeing a resurgence of them in general,” Deonandan said.
However, this resurgence is related to the seasonality of viruses such as influenza and RSV rather than the absence of infections that affect the human immune system. As predicted by many scientists, a 2020 paperA small number of respiratory infections, combined with the seasonality of these viruses, can lead to higher than usual infections in later seasons.
Now, with school back in session, he said, “it’s really reignited viruses in the school environment.” Peter Stonevirologist at Baylor College of Medicine. All of these viruses circulating among school children have the potential to infect others in their social circles, such as their parents, and then spread it to their peers.
Covid infections can damage our immune system.
One of the possible contributors to this year’s unusually bad flu and RSV seasons is the effect of the covid infection on our immune system. such as Early evidence suggestsThis can be role playing. “There are several papers that suggest that the covid infection reduces our ability to protect against future infections of different types,” said Deonandan.
This is not a new idea: there are many viruses that are known to have a negative effect on our immune system. It is one example. Measles virusOur immune system can “forget” past infections. such as 2019 study Measles infection has the effect of wiping out 11 to 73 percent of the body’s antibodies.
It is not yet known how much the immune system will be affected by Covid, who may be exposed and what the consequences may be. “A lot of people have had multiple infections that are fine,” Deonandan said. “As the number of people who become infected or re-infected may increase, this weakens their ability to protect against future infections.”
To reduce your risk, take precautions
of Flu causes 12-52,000 deaths per yearand RSV causes 58,000 to 80,000 hospitalizations per year for children under 5 years of age. Although this year is on track to be very bad, the risks are well documented. “Respiratory viral infections have a significant impact on our health before, during and after an epidemic,” Piedra said. “None of this is new.”
The advantage is that there are many precautions that can reduce the risk of getting sick or reduce the severity of these symptoms. This includes staying up-to-date on your Covid vaccinations, making sure you have your flu shot and taking precautions like wearing a mask when in crowded areas.