Tatarstan on the verge of flu epidemic -13 schools partially closed

Doctors predict the peak incidence of URTI after the New Year

There is an influx of patients in Tatarstan polyclinics, and schools and kindergartens have begun to close for quarantine because of the increase in the incidence of URTI. Forced holidays have come in 13 schools and 1 kindergarten. Last week alone, 17,706 new cases of acute respiratory viral infections were registered in the republic, and the week before last the weekly epidporog was exceeded. In general, it is still too early to declare the epidemic, we are only at the beginning of the season, Rospotrebnadzor experts explain. A large-scale flu vaccination campaign has been completed — 1,9 million people have been vaccinated. Experts predict a peak in the incidence after the New Year holidays and hope that patients diagnosed with the flu this year will not be too many. Read more in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

There will be no quarantine this year

According to statistics, the first wave of URTI covers educational institutions. Parents and teachers are complaining that half of the class is often absent at lessons. According to Rospotrebnadzor, Tatarstan has already quarantined 31 classes of 13 schools, closed one group in kindergarten and completely closed one school. In Kazan, part of the classes in seven schools have been closed, head of the epidemiological department of the Department of Rospotrebnadzor in Tatarstan Lilia Yuzlibaeva said:

“We give recommendations for the cancellation of classes when at least 20% of students are absent due to illness. We even insist on closing. But most often we close schools and kindergartens not completely, but partially: classes and groups — the epidemiological threshold has not been exceeded yet, we are still at the beginning of the season.”

However, over the past two weeks, the cold has noticeably thinned the ranks of office workers. According to the Social Insurance Fund of Tatarstan, at the beginning of December, the number of discharged sick in the republic is close to last year's figures. Dmitry Lopushov, chief non-staff immunoprophylaxis specialist of the ministry of healthcare of the Republic of Tatarstan, explained to Realnoe Vremya what is the reason for such a rise in the incidence:

“Indeed, we note the growth of appeals of Tatarstan citizens with URTI. We are smoothly moving into a seasonal upswing. This situation is repeated annually in these terms. Without laboratory data, it is difficult to comment remotely on the causes of individual cases. It should be freezing now. At low temperatures, people dress warmer, and the flu virus significantly reduces its danger of spreading. Unfortunately, not quite favourable weather and lack of vitamins leads to the traditional seasonal rise of URTI. But for doctors, there are no alarm signals and nothing unexpected in this. Morbidity rates do not exceed the usual figures for this time of year.”

Dmitriy Lopushov finds it difficult to tell to what the developing situation can lead. According to his observations, a massive rise in the incidence occurs for a number of years after the winter holidays. Students should not hope for quarantine until the New Year. For its announcement in educational institutions, two conditions are necessary: 20 per cent of students must be absent from the classroom due to illness, and the incidence must exceed the epidemiological threshold. Then the principal has the right to terminate classes in one class or in the whole school.

A vaccinated person is 90 per cent immune to influenza infection. In 10 per cent of cases, the disease can be much easier and almost without complications.

According to Dmitry Lopushov, Tatarstan has reached the normative indicators of population coverage — 1,9 million people have been vaccinated, 51 per cent of the population of Tatarstan.

“We hope that thanks to such good figures, the incidence of influenza will not have catastrophic values, as, for example, in 2009-2010. There is no definite deadline for completing vaccination. We vaccinate while people come, many do not have time to get vaccinated in September because of a cold. Now there is still vaccination of recruits, as the conscription continues until December 31. Vaccinations can and should be done, even if the epidemiological threshold for morbidity is exceeded by 10-15 per cent. Immunity is developed in two to three weeks, and the person will be protected all the remaining months,” says the specialist in immunoprophylaxis.

In terms of flu vaccines, Tatarstan has reached the normative indicators of population coverage — 1,9 million people, 51 per cent of the population of Tatarstan, have been vaccinated. Photo: mil.ru

The vaccinated population has collective immunity

Influenza is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract, which easily spreads from person to person: when talking, sneezing, the virus can persist on household items (the surface of tables, objects, toys) up to 8 hours. With the flu, the temperature suddenly rises to 39-40 degrees, there is a weakness, aching in the body, dizziness, redness of the eyes and a strong headache. Influenza is considered more dangerous than other URTI precisely because of possible complications — pneumonia (it is the cause of most deaths from influenza), bronchitis, otitis, myocarditis, meningitis, meningoencephalitis.

The vaccinated population does not allow the virus to spread. If the majority is vaccinated, the minority — those who do not receive the vaccine for one reason or another — have a minimal chance of becoming infected. Photo: surgutgp5.ru

The most effective way to prevent influenza is vaccination, doctors say. It reduces the incidence of influenza and prevents complications. Annual vaccination is explained by the constant variability (mutation) of influenza viruses. In this regard, the composition of vaccines is updated as necessary to keep up with changes in influenza viruses. Traditional influenza vaccines (“trivalent’ vaccines) are designed to protect against three influenza viruses: influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B.

In Tatarstan, the vaccination campaign against influenza is coming to an end. The main goal of vaccination is to protect the population from the mass and uncontrolled spread of infection, from the flu epidemic. It is important to understand that by vaccinating the population, doctors save the lives of those who risk dying from complications. Risk groups include young children whose immunity is in the process of formation, the elderly, those suffering from chronic diseases, people with immunodeficiency conditions, as well as students, conscripts, pregnant women, health workers, teachers, the workers of service and transport.

The vaccinated population does not allow the virus to spread. If the majority is vaccinated, the minority — those who do not receive the vaccine for one reason or another — have a minimal chance of becoming infected. And that is why collective immunity is created.

By Ekaterina Ablaeva
Tatarstan