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Are people underestimating the impact of other viral infections?

(56 Posts)
GruffaloandMouse Tue 30-Jun-20 18:45:59

With Covid, it seems like people are in such a state of terror, as though they don’t realise other viruses and infections could have awful or even devastating effects.
I’m far more scared of sepsis, which can occur as the result of any infection or even a small cut on the finger.

A couple of examples from me are when I caught hand, foot and mouth as an adult from my DS last year, I was so unwell. A very high temperature, chills, shakes, such painful body aches, incredibly sore throat. Then a day later these huge ulcers all developed down my throat and in my mouth, rendering it basically impossible to eat without excruciating pain. Nothing like a normal sore throat, these were like open wounds in my throat.
Luckily I managed to fight it off, but I’ve heard stories of adults ending up in hospital with both that and chicken pox.
My other example is of my DS when he was only 2 months old, he caught a genetic cold virus from me and it turned into broncholitis, which ended him up in hospital overnight with oxygen and a feeding tube. He was very white, floppy and unresponsive the next day and we were worried we might lose him. Luckily he was fine, but it was incredibly scary and that came from a cold virus.

Basically I just can’t get my head around the reaction to this virus, when there isn’t the same reaction to other viruses and infections.

OP’s posts: |
mac12 Tue 30-Jun-20 18:48:56

Google Covid Longhaul or Long Covid.

Sunshinegirl82 Tue 30-Jun-20 18:54:42

I think people do underestimate the risks associated with “normal” viruses. My dad died of sepsis, it’s responsible for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide but most people wouldn’t give it a second thought.

I sometimes wonder, if no one in the world had ever had chicken pox and it suddenly appeared overnight like COVID did would it have had a similar impact?

I’m very optimistic about a vaccine in any event so hopefully we’ll be starting to take steps to eradicate covid in the next few months.

Firef1y72 Tue 30-Jun-20 18:55:41

I know of at least 2 people that ended up in intensive care thanks to chickenpox.
My son came close to PICU thanks to a common cold (asthma).

I had a "mystery respiratory virus" at Christmas and felt like I was dying. (tbh the symptoms/progression/recovery were almost exactly the same as Covid, but obviously no test), if a vulnerable older person had caught it they would have ended up in hospital at the very least.

Growing up a girl in school ended up with ME after a bout of flu.

So yes people do seem to forget that there are just as dangerous virii about.

PuzzledObserver Tue 30-Jun-20 18:58:49

Your experience with hand foot and mouth sounds awful, and I know people who have suffered very badly with glandular fever. The difference between them and Covid is that 50,000 people don’t die of those every year, when less than 10% of people have been infected with them and the other 90% are probably still susceptible.

It’s thought that about 5% of people who catch Covid may suffer debilitating long term effects. If it becomes endemic and everyone gets it eventually, that would be 3 million chronically people and hundreds of thousands of deaths.

That’s why.

iamapixie Tue 30-Jun-20 18:59:22

I agree OP. I wonder whether some of the very terrified have not been around much illness/death.
It's odd for example that some think that Covid causes a far 'worse' death than anything else. Few deaths are actually a barrel of laughs and many are pretty horrid.
As to long-term effects, so many illnesses can cause these.
I won't start listing all the horrible ways people can die because generally I find some of the quite gleeful obsessing over Covid quite sick and upsetting, but thinking of the illnesses and deaths of friends and family members, Covid would have been no worse, and in some cases rather better.

Sunshinegirl82 Tue 30-Jun-20 19:15:18


I think the difficulty is though that lots of viruses would have that effect if you infected an entire population simultaneously.

Most endemic viruses (ie chicken pox) are caught in childhood, when it’s fairly mild. Immunity builds up in the community reducing the spread and protecting the more susceptible (to an extent).

FrugiFan Tue 30-Jun-20 19:27:03

Sorry to derail but the plural or virus is not "virii"

PuzzledObserver Tue 30-Jun-20 19:28:25

You’re right, OP - it is worse because it’s new. Maybe chickenpox was like that when it arrived.

But we weren’t around then and didn’t have to go through it.

PuzzledObserver Tue 30-Jun-20 19:29:20

What I’m saying is that I think the fear of Covid is justified - it is much more likely than any of the other viruses circulating to have a bad outcome.

Calledyoulastnightfromglasgow Tue 30-Jun-20 19:29:22

I agree. I understand covid is serious but cannot fathom the way people risk assess it compared to other risks

Keepdistance Tue 30-Jun-20 19:34:55

Youve posted this before.
Your average adult is immune to most of these things. (I didnt catch hfm from dc nor did dp).
Ive had gf (badly) and wasnt well for a year. I didnt think i would suffocate though...
People just dont really expect to die at under 50 even if they have asthma or diabetes.
The gov treatment of people via nhs is also shocking. No oxygen left to suffocate at home and gps too scared to attend.
It's a nasty virus and has nasty long term side effects.
My dc was very ill at 3yo and again nhs was useless and missed 4 times ear infections leaving dc with a heart murmur.
I think it's likely a lot of people would be less worried with
- a better healthcare system
- a different government

I already have asthma im supposed to SD but they will make it compulsory to return dc to non SD school.
I alreasy know what it feels like to suffocate and i dont need lung damage.
Who knows how the people who survived covid will fare this winter with cold and flu.
Who knows if they will catch covid again and again.
(At least with everything you mebtioned you only get once. Barring sepsis but again that is often uk policy to deny antibiotics causing that (and scarlett fever)

SunbathingDragon Tue 30-Jun-20 19:37:43

Covid can cause sepsis as well and death that way.

We have a very effective vaccine for chickenpox and a large amount of herd immunity in countries that don’t routinely vaccinate. Most people have chickenpox and HFM as children so it’s out of the way. Covid-19 is attacking adults, usually more so than children, and as a result it’s killing our economy and can overwhelm our health systems - it’s not just a case of some people needing a stay in hospital and then being ok. Many of those in ICU will need long term support to function again and to cope with PTSD; then there are the many who will have permanent damage to lungs, hearts and other organs.

Nearly all viruses have the potential to cause far more harm to some people than others (especially measles) but it’s very rare for us to all be prone to get it and be affected at the same time. We are now facing that very rare prospect.

Keepdistance Tue 30-Jun-20 19:40:31

If it were truly just a danger to the elderly we wouldnt have locked down as they let them die anyway.
It was (is) the risk to the working population.
At 6% immunity 3000 ? Under 70s would be -at least 30,000 just to get to 60% and that is a lot of youngish people.
The nhs also would not cope with all those left with long term health issues.

Useruseruserusee Tue 30-Jun-20 19:43:30

My toddler DS has a condition that makes him prone to respiratory infections. Until I had this experience I had no idea how awful a common cold can be.

lljkk Tue 30-Jun-20 19:43:59


Itwasgoodwhileitlasted Tue 30-Jun-20 19:49:13

I've had Labyrinthitis and a year on I still have symptoms. Awful. Worst I've ever felt.

FiveToFour Tue 30-Jun-20 19:51:29

And do you think that the medical personnel coping with Covid aren't well able to compare it to other viruses?
The world isn't full of doctors and nurses saying it's all a great big fuss about nothing, is it? Or other academically qualified people.
I grew up pre MMR, my parents generation had polio, my grand mother had diphtheria.Covid still seems pretty scary and we have no idea what long term effects might be.

Makinganewthinghappen Tue 30-Jun-20 19:51:46

I nearly died of tonsillitis as a totally healthy 28 year old with no underlying problems - I hadn’t even had tonsilitis I since I was a child. Just came out of no where .

Once I had had that I got Ill very quickly afterwards with flu and pneumonia - my immune system was shot by the tonsillitis and I had sepsis again.

People think they are invincible when they are young but as my doctor at the time said “sometimes things just goes down like a house of cards and we don’t know why”

I am healthy now but I do have more than average fear of winter bugs!

UnmentionedElephantDildo Tue 30-Jun-20 19:53:21

If you want to survive sepsis, you'll want the full range of ITU capabilities available. Not stuffed to the gunnels with COVID patients.

It is precisely because other conditions haven't gone away that we need to keep COVID under control, and re-establish 'clean' areas.

We prevented the NHS from being overwhelmed by closing quite a lot of it down for a while. It's a harsh necessity, but when there is a newly emergent disease that puts so many people into ITU, for much longer per parptient than a typical stay, then you have to take very firm infection control measures (main one being breaking transmission chains by social distancing). Because the quicker you can reduce the numbers needing ITU, the sooner you can reduce deaths from other conditions.

It's the difference between a novel virus (no one immune, still so much unknown, and no effective treatment) and other diseases, which are not novel.

LastTrainEast Tue 30-Jun-20 19:53:27

You're quite right that many other viruses are dangerous, but this was a greater threat here and now. We've kept the losses down to 43k+ (so far), but it could have been much worse.

But maybe the fear wasn't because of the statistical chance of dying from it. If you think about it we put the whole planet on lockdown for this. It's fairly natural for people to be terrified for that reason alone. Just the fact that all the countries agreed it was that bad. Normally you can't get them all to agree that it's raining when they are dripping wet.

I understand that Saudi Arabia cancelled the hajj pilgrimage. I'd have bet that they''d have let everyone die rather than give up any part of their religion.

The Conservative government gave away a huge amount of money over this. Since money is pretty much their religion that felt shocking. It was like they were saying things were so bad the money didn't matter.

So people tended to be terrified and up to a point that was a good thing as it kept most people indoors.

It would be better if people were less terrified and followed rules because they made sense, but you have to work with what you've got.

And we shouldn't forget that the people we hear from on social media are those either terrified or angry at being told what to do.

I didn't lose any sleep over the virus. I just took the precautions and stayed in. (easier for me as no dependents now) maybe millions of other people did the same and we're just not hearing about them.

morethanafortnight Tue 30-Jun-20 19:56:58

Are people underestimating the impact of other viral infections?


SunbathingDragon Tue 30-Jun-20 19:57:37

Many people still have the knock on effects months later and we are expecting that for some it will be life long. By coronavirus taking over our hospitals, it means people who need other medical help suffer. These are two other reasons why it’s so scary.

Covid-19 under control is potentially a killer for a small minority but most likely a nuisance, but it’s not under control (like chickenpox or HFM) and that makes it incredibly dangerous.

Changeofsceneryisgood Tue 30-Jun-20 20:13:05

I'm concerned at my immune response to covid 19. Been going on since April and my body is doing horrid things. One of the most surprising was quite a severe nut allergy (vomited and throat closed) and I didn't fully recover for 2 days. My recent bout has left me confused and not able to speak coherently. It is thought I don't have the virus but the immune system thing is scary.
I have now become scared of any germ / virus and response to those.
I know my reaction is not normal though.

Changeofsceneryisgood Tue 30-Jun-20 20:25:09

@SunbathingDragon I hope you don't mind me asking, are you a clinician? I just picked up the use of 'we' are expecting for some to be lifelong. This was my fear this weekend and it was a dark place. Is there anywhere this is documented?
This is a genuine question. Perhaps I should stop reading though.

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