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Friday May 24, 2024

Diarrhoea, typhoid and hepatitis A start hitting child population severely

By Muhammad Qasim
May 12, 2024
A medic treats a baby girl at a hospital. — AFP/File
A medic treats a baby girl at a hospital. — AFP/File

Rawalpindi : After a rise in temperature and a severe heat wave that hit the population in this region of the country last week, the allied hospitals in town have started receiving a significant influx of child and infant patients with diarrhoeal disease, typhoid and hepatitis A.

According to health experts, the change in weather conditions and the setting in of summer may make the situation alarming if the parents do not take serious measures to safeguard their children from diarrhoea, typhoid and hepatitis A as these infections may hit child population severely in the coming days.

Data collected by ‘The News’ on Saturday has revealed that nearly 30 per cent of all child patients and infants being taken to paediatrics departments here at the allied hospitals in town are with complaints of acute diarrhoea mainly with vomiting and loose motion. It is important that every year, with the setting in of hot weather, a greater number of child and infant patients with diarrhoea, enteric fever and hepatitis A along with malaria are reported at the paediatrics departments of the teaching hospitals including Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Holy Family Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital.

Diarrhoeal disease that is the third leading cause of death in children under five years of age is an infection in the intestinal tract caused by a variety of bacterial, viral or parasitic organisms. The infection is mainly caused by the use of contaminated food, unsafe drinking water or from person to person as a result of poor hygiene.

The number of child and infant patients with diarrhoea, typhoid and hepatitis A is registering a sharp increase in the region and it is time to make the public aware of the fact that these infections are preventable and treatable and these are caused mainly due to consumption of contaminated water, said Dean of Paediatrics at Rawalpindi Medical University Dr. Rai Muhammad Asghar while talking to ‘The News’ on Saturday.

He added that not less than 25 per cent of the total child patients being taken to the allied hospitals are with diarrhoea while the incidences of typhoid and hepatitis A are also on a sharp increase. The most common cases of diarrhoea are of E-coli or Rotavirus, dehydrating diarrhoea,

Particularly in infants below one year of age and these cases of acute watery diarrhoea do not need antibiotics for management as this type of diarrhoea is self-limiting and the symptoms subside in three to five days in majority of the cases, he said.

He added that nearly 10 per cent of total child and infant patients being presented with diarrhoea are caused by Shigella bacteria and majority of these patients require hospitalization and need antibiotics for management.

He said the children and infants must be vaccinated against rotavirus and typhoid. Two doses of rotavirus vaccine, at the age of six and ten weeks, are given orally under Expanded Programme on Immunisation while typhoid vaccine is administered at the age of nine months under EPI. The EPI is providing the best vaccines for protection against the infections free of cost and these are available at the allied hospitals, said Dr. Rai.

He said that the cause of death among child and infant patients with diarrhoea is not because of the infection instead it is because of dehydration. Malnourished children are at greater risk of contracting diarrhoea and like infections. He said the best treatment for acute watery diarrhoea is to prevent child patients from dehydration and for that, immediately after the incidence of diarrhoea, ORS should be started.

He added that to safeguard children from infections including diarrhoea, typhoid and hepatitis A, they should be given clean drinking water but not mineral water. School going children should not be allowed to consume locally prepared juices and ice lollies prepared at vendors as these might cause typhoid and diarrhoea, he said.