In the midst of a crisis in pediatric emergencies, the bronchiolitis epidemic continues to progress. This respiratory disease which affects babies has further spread in recent days in France, detailed Wednesday, October 26 the health authorities. “Almost all of the metropolis is now in epidemic”a summary from the French public health agency in a weekly report.
In mainland France, only Corsica is not yet affected, but the region is now considered in the preliminary phase. Overseas, the epidemic, already at work in Guyana, has now reached Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Common and highly contagious, bronchiolitis causes babies to cough and have difficult, rapid, wheezy breathing. Even if it is distressing for young parents, it is most of the time benign. In some cases, it may require a visit to the emergency room, or even hospitalization.
An earlier epidemic this year
In total, in metropolitan France, 4,311 children under the age of 2 went to the emergency room for bronchiolitis in the week of October 17 to 23, a figure almost doubled compared to the previous week. More than 1,400 were eventually hospitalized.
The number of hospitalizations is thus higher than what is probably observed in October, confirming the scenario of an earlier epidemic for the second year in a row. At its peak, last year’s outbreak resulted in some 2,000 weekly hospitalizations.
This epidemic has hit pediatric emergency services which are more widely plunged into a crisis linked to unsatisfactory working conditions and a lack of staff. Thousands of caregivers denounced this weekend a “loss of meaning” because of a “irresponsible political inaction”. The government responded by announcing an emergency plan of 150 million euros, without satisfying the protesters, who still consider the basic problems unresolved.