Wash toys, limit kissing: French health ministry warns on bronchiolitis epidemic

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By Euronews
A physiotherapist examines a 9-month-old baby affected by bronchiolitis in 2003.
A physiotherapist examines a 9-month-old baby affected by bronchiolitis in 2003.   -   Copyright  MYCHELE DANIAU / AFP, FILE

Parents should wash toys and limit other peoples' contact with their babies, including kisses, amid a bronchiolitis epidemic, France's health ministry warned.

Bronchiolitis is a common respiratory infection that affects babies under two years old. The early symptoms include a slight fever and cough or wheezing.

France has an early epidemic of bronchiolitis this year and although the vast majority of cases are benign, "very young children, in particular those under two months old, may present with more serious forms" requiring hospitalisation or intensive care, the health ministry said.

Last week, around 3,200 babies went to the emergency room due to the illness.

French health authorities say that parents should use virus preventative measures to avoid infecting their children, including washing their hands and wearing a mask if they have a cold.

Parents should try to "limit visits to a circle of very close adults" who aren't sick and not "kiss or pass around" the children.

The government suggests avoiding family reunions, restaurants, and public transport if the child is under three months old.

Parents should go to the hospital if the baby is less than six weeks old, was formerly premature, has respiratory or heart disease, "drinks less than half of bottles at three consecutive meals or vomits systematically, sleeps in permanently, or cannot fall asleep," the health ministry said.