An influx of babies with a severe respiratory virus are being admitted into New Zealand hospitals because of what doctors have described as “immunity debt.”
Immunity debt takes place when people who have not been exposed to normal levels of viruses and bacteria experience a surge in infections.
Reports said New Zealand has a high intake of children being hospitalised for respiratory illnesses including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
RSV is a common illness that only produces mild symptoms in adults but can be fatal for children.
The country has reported nearly 1,000 RSV cases in the past five weeks, according to the Institute of Environmental Science and Research.
This compares to the usual average of 1,743 over the full 29-week winter season.
The capital Wellington currently has 46 children hospitalised with the illness, according to The Guardian.
Epidemiologist and public health professor Michael Baker told the paper the country has “accumulated a whole lot of susceptible children that have missed out on exposure – so now they’re seeing it for the first time.”
But Mr Baker also warned people to be careful when looking at data as peaks do not necessarily mean the country will have more RSV cases overall.
He also told the Guardian it may just be that all the cases are grouped together, rather than being spread out over several years.