Covid XBB.1.16: Adults, children, and the elderly exhibit symptoms of the novel Covid variant Arcturus

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    The signs of the new Covid variant Arcturus, also known as XBB.1.16, in adults, kids, and the elderly are listed below. What you need to know.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated Covid variation XBB.1.16, commonly known as Arcturus, as the “variant under monitoring” after it was shown to be rapidly spreading over the globe. A total of 712 XBB.1.16 sequences were discovered in 21 countries, according to the latest WHO statistics. A subvariant of the Omicron variant, which first appeared in late 2021 and has since supplanted delta as the predominant version globally, is XBB 1.16.

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    The Arcturus strain, which has more spike mutations than its predecessors and is thought to be more transmissible and immune-evasive, may evade the protection provided by earlier infections or vaccinations. While the symptoms of XBB.1.16 are not significantly different from those of the preceding strains and the sickness it causes is still generally minor, it has the potential to induce somewhat different symptoms in the elderly and youngsters. 

    What is XBB.1.16 or Arcturus? 

    The recent alarming increase in Covid cases is thought to be caused by the XBB.1.16 variation, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variety. XBB 1.16 includes just a few more spike mutations, according to findings based on genome sequencing that are currently accessible. Dr Rohit Kumar Garg, Consultant, Department of Infectious Diseases, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, adds that based on the evidence currently available, it appears to be more transmissible and immunological evasive, generating infections in patients with pre-existing natural or vaccine-induced immunity.

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    Adults’ typical symptoms of XBB.1.16 or Arcturus

    According to experts, the loss of taste and smell that was prominent during the spread of the Delta variety is now rare, whereas Covid users are more likely to have symptoms including fever, sore throat, runny nose, body soreness, diarrhoea, and exhaustion. 

    “XBB 1.16’s symptoms are not significantly different from those of earlier iterations. Adults frequently have symptoms such as fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, body discomfort, myalgia, lethargy, and diarrhoea. Patients who have a severe sickness may experience symptoms related to shortness of breath, low oxygen saturation, and respiratory distress, according to Dr Garg.

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    Adults who are infected can have symptoms such as fever, cough, cold, nasal discharge/running nose, blocked nose, sneezing, soreness and irritation in the throat, scratchy throat, change in voice/hoarse voice, shortness of breath, headache, body pains, exhaustion, nausea, diarrhoea, and chest discomfort. As with the Delta variety of COVID-19, loss of taste and smell is less common currently, according to Dr Gurmeet Singh Chabbra, Director of Pulmonology at Marengo Asia Hospitals in Faridabad.

    According to Dr Aditya S. Chowti, Senior Consultant – Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bangalore, “this variant’s symptoms include fever, sore throat, runny nose, extreme fatigue, abdominal discomfort, muscle pain, and headaches.”

    Children’s XBB.1.16 or Arcturus symptoms

    In the current wave of Covid infections, children may also experience pink eye or conjunctivitis in addition to sore throats, runny noses, and blocked noses.

    High fever, cough, itchy conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, without pus, but with sticky eyes’, are among the symptoms of the XBB.1.16 variation that have been observed in youngsters. Running nose, clogged nose, and scratchy throat seem to be more typical symptoms in the latest Covid type, according to Dr Chabbra.

    “An additional symptom, namely an itchy, pink eye (conjunctivitis), has been documented in cases involving youngsters.”

    Children with XBB covid have exhibited typical viral infection behaviours. Typically, symptoms are difficult to distinguish from flu-like sickness. Children get secondary effects once a family member contracts the Covid virus. The goal of the therapy is to maintain hydration while also providing multivitamins, paracetamol, and five days of bed rest and isolation. The majority of kids make full recoveries. With this new strain, especially in toddlers, there is no reason to be alarmed. Dr Prashant Udavant, a paediatrician and neonatologist at Ruby Hall Clinic, advises that children over 12 receive the Covid vaccine.

    The most common symptoms in children include a high temperature, a cold, a cough, and itchy conjunctivitis. Additionally, they could have sticky eyes, says Dr Chowti.

    XBB.1.16 or Arcturus symptoms in the elderly or those suffering from long-term illnesses

    Given that elderly people are more likely to acquire serious illnesses, it is important to treat them while taking into consideration their risk factors.

    According to the information that is currently available, XBB 1.16 infection is not more severe than recently circulating strains. The majority of XBB 1.16-infected people only suffer from minor illnesses. Dr Garg notes that only a very small percentage of patients with high-risk circumstances, such as old age group, immunocompromising illness (cancer, HIV, steroids, etc.), a comorbid condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular condition, respiratory condition, etc., have been documented to develop a serious disease.

    “Symptoms in the elderly are typically similar to those in adults. However, aged people are more likely to acquire severe illness because of age-related immunosenescence (age-related immune system malfunction) and related co-morbid disorders, which makes them more likely to experience protracted suffering and pass away, according to Dr Chabbra.

    As mean body temperature drops with age, older people may present with a comparatively lower temperature than an adult. According to Dr Chabbra, the IDSA defines fever in senior people as a temperature modification of 99 degrees Fahrenheit measured twice, or a single oral temperature of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or a gradual rise of 2 degrees Fahrenheit from the baseline.

    “Elderly people are more prone to appear with delirium and asthenia, especially those over the age of 85. In senior patients with persistent lung illness, it could be challenging to distinguish between an acute cough and shortness of breath, says Dr Chabbra.

    Advice on preventing XBB.1.16

    According to Dr Chabbra, individuals should use triple-layered masks, practise good hand hygiene, and adhere to social distance rules. In people who have risk factors for severe disease, immunisation may help prevent hospitalisation and serious illness, according to the expert.

    “Unless absolutely essential, avoid going outside in congested locations. Do not touch your lips, eyes, or nose. If symptoms start to occur, isolate yourself right away and speak with your doctor for more information. If you have been diagnosed with Covid, get enough rest, stay hydrated, eat a nutritious diet, and consume fruits, among other things. If discovered to be insufficient, you could need multivitamins. If you are receiving therapy for a chronic ailment, your doctor could suggest changing your regimen. You should use a pulse oximeter to measure your oxygen saturation, your heart rate, and your respiration rate and inform your doctor accordingly,” says Dr Chabbra.

    “Despite the rise in Covid cases and the impending danger of the seasonal flu, we must not give in to fear but rather arm ourselves with information and take the appropriate measures. Influenza symptoms often appear for a short time—less than a week—with a peak severity of one to two days. The suggested course of treatment is to take paracetamol while avoiding antibiotics to treat these symptoms. Patients with comorbidities or underlying medical issues should also seek expert help. In order to reduce the risk of developing seasonal diseases, it is crucial to strictly adhere to fundamental hygiene rules and preventative measures.

    According to Dr. Arunesh Kumar, Senior Consultant and Head of Pulmonology/Respiratory Medicine, Paras Health, Gurugram, “We currently have a few patients who are hospitalised with moderate to severe Covid pneumonia, so it is important to enforce Covid appropriate conduct, including the use of face masks and self-isolation in the event of influenza-like symptoms.”

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