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Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social

Climatic Variability Keeps Respiratory Infections High

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 Climatic Variability Keeps Respiratory Infections High

Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social > Climatic Variability Keeps Respiratory Infections High

​​​​Flu? Stay meters away!

Press release 088, 218


 - Windstorms and sudden rains, possible cause of the prevalence of the epidemiological peak.

 Bogotá, D.C., July 31, 2018. Climatic variability, which in the case of Colombia is apparent in windstorms, cold fronts and sudden rains, is a possible cause of the unusual persistence of the epidemiological peak of respiratory infections. Despite this particular climatic factor, the number of people affected by these pathologies has not presented a significant variation with respect to the previous year.

 According to the data from the National Public Health Surveillance System (Sivigila), up to week 28 in 2018, 3,816,975 outpatient and emergency visits for acute respiratory infections have been reported (a reduction compared to 3,856,304 reported in 2017), 138,362 hospitalizations (compared to 142,712 the previous year), and the number of patients in intensive care units (ICU) increased from 11,393 in 2017 to 12,327 in 2018.

 José Fernando Valderrama, Deputy Director of Communicable Diseases of the Ministry of Health, points out that a similar situation occurs throughout the American continent. According to the expert, all seasonal respiratory viruses circulate in Colombia, with a predominance of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and the influenza virus.

The World Health Organization data report a decline in influenza and RSV in the Caribbean region and in Central America, with the exception of Cuba and the Dominican Republic, where it continues to be high.

On the other hand, in the Andean subregion, the activity of influenza and other respiratory viruses remains stable, although the circulation of influenza A and the incidence of severe acute respiratory infection remain high in Peru and Colombia. On a global level, subtype A of seasonal influenza viruses accounted for the majority of detections.

According to Deputy Director Valderrama, the implementation of the "National Program for the Prevention, Management and Control of ARI" began in 2016, and in 2018 the "Healthcare" component was strengthened through virtual and face-to-face technical assistance. This work was conducted together with ACIN, Colombian Association of Pediatric Pulmonology, Colombian Association of Pulmonology, Colombian Pediatric Society, Colombian Academy of Pediatrics and Childcare, which seek to generate skills in the management of cases, prevention and control of the event.

How to avoid getting sick from ARI?


    • Frequently wash hands, especially after using disposable handkerchiefs, coughing or sneezing.
    • Maintain a complete vaccination schedule, according to age.
    • Encourage breastfeeding.
    • Keep the house ventilated, illuminated, clean and free of smoke.
    • Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow when sneezing or coughing, never with your hand.
    • Wear face masks and stay home in case of a cold.
    • Avoid hand or mouth contact with people who have acute respiratory infection.
    • Avoid rubbing your eyes or face without washing your hands.
    • Vaccinate risk groups against influenza, such as people diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, asbestosis, aspergilloma, acute invasive aspergillosis, atelectasis, eosinophilic pneumonia, lung cancer, metastatic lung, necrotizing pneumonia, pleural effusion, neumononiosis, pneumocystosis, pneumonia in immunodeficient user, pneumothorax, pulmonary actinomycosis, pulmonary alveolar proteinosis, pulmonary anthrax, pulmonary arteriovenous malformation, pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolus, pulmonary histiocytosis, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary nocardiosis, pulmonary tuberculosis, pulmonary veno-occlusive disease and rheumatoid pulmonary disease.
    • Vaccination is also recommended against influenza in people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus with associated comorbidities (cardiopathy, nephropathy, neuropathic, etc.), congenital heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, ischemic heart disease, people with body mass index greater than or equal to 40 (morbid obesity), in immunocompromised patients, in pregnant women starting at week 14 of gestation and in the adult population over 60 years of age. Vaccination against influenza is also recommended for relatives and cohabitants of a minor with cancer.


How to care for a person with ARI?

    • If possible, do not send children to preschool, school or work.
    • If body temperature is higher than 38.5 °C, treat the fever according to medical advice and apply warm water wipes on areas of the body higher in temperature such as the armpits and inguinal crease (never use alcohol for this purpose) .
    • Increase fluid intake and offer food in small portions, more frequently.
    • Increase breastfeeding.
    • After meals, keep the child sitting for at least 30 minutes.
    • Do not self-medicate.
    • Frequently clean the nose, leaving it free of secretions, or apply saline through the nostrils.
    • Use a face mask when showing symptoms (children over 3 years and adults).
    • Cough or sneeze over the inside angle of the arm.


Consult the doctor in case of:

    • Breathing faster than normal
    • Fever difficult to control for more than two days
    • If chest sounds or hurts when you breathe
    • Drowsiness or difficulty waking up
    • Seizures or convulsions
    • Weakness
    • Quick deterioration of the general condition


Ministry of Health actions to strengthen ARI care


    • Support to all territories on action plan with the first respiratory peak since January 2018.
    • Virtual technical assistance on "Guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis, management and control of influenza" addressed to all the territories of the country. Available in: "Guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis, management and control of Influenza cases".
    • Implementation of: "Guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis, management and control of influenza", a joint work with: ACIN, Colombian Association of Pediatric Pulmonology, Colombian Association of Pneumology, Colombian Society of Pediatrics, Colombian Academy of Pediatrics and Childcare.
    • Work in networks with the development of Facebook Live with the participation of the Colombian Society of Pediatrics-INS/Ministry of Health
    • Availability of the Influenza vaccine throughout the national territory; reinforcing the importance of vaccinating the risk groups with national references: the last event was conducted in July 2018.
    • Dissemination of the Campaign "Flu? Stay meters away!," which reinforces the actions of the community strategy of the national program.
    • Within the framework of the "Health for Peace" project, 25 community comprehensive care units were installed for the prevention, management and control of ARI and ADD in 14 provinces.


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