References

Department of Health and Social Care. Biggest flu programme in history to roll out for winter 2021. 2021. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/biggest-flu-programme-in-history-to-roll-out-for-winter-2021 (accessed 29 July 2021)

Public Health England. Norovirus outbreaks increasing in England. 2021. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/norovirus-outbreaks-increasing-in-england (accessed 29 July 2021)

Winter worries

02 August 2021
2 min read
Volume 32 · Issue 8

I write this as I recover from an outbreak of gastroenteritis that has ripped through my household. An illness that I've previously thought of as a ‘winter bug’. This ties in with news reports I've seen lately, with Public Health England (PHE) warning that routine surveillance has shown an increase in the number of outbreaks of norovirus in recent weeks (PHE, 2021) and cases are returning to pre-pandemic levels across all age groups and settings in England – with far more incidents reported to PHE than would usually be expected in the summer months. Many of these cases are associated with early years childcare settings.

There are also reports of higher rates of respiratory infections in children (see p306) – particularly respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an infection that is usually mild in healthy children. RSV is also mainly seen in the winter months. Paediatric A&Es are reporting that they have had the busiest couple of months on record, with one doctor saying ‘We are effectively running a winter-level emergency department response in the summertime’. Some evidence suggests parents are attending A&E unnecessarily when their child has a mild fever. One theory is that this is happening because those with young children born during the pandemic haven't experienced mild illness in their child before and are anxious.

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