Infectious Diseases
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What has widespread social distancing taught the infectious disease community?

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Common infectious diseases among children decreased as a result of social distancing efforts put in place during the pandemic, according to a Research Brief in Pediatrics.

Researchers analyzed electronic health record data from approximately 375,000 children for the weekly incidence of each diagnosis acute otitis media, bronchiolitis, common cold, croup, gastroenteritis, influenza, nonstreptococcal pharyngitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, skin and soft tissue infections, streptococcal pharyngitis, and urinary tract infection for the same time in 2019 and 2020.

The frequency of each condition was found to be significantly lower than expected in 2020 after social distancing measures had been put in place.

The researchers concluded that the reduction could be the result of fewer patients seeking care or a decline in prevalence.

“The infectious disease risks of contact with others have always been implicitly weighed against the benefits of social interaction,” the authors wrote. “The current natural experiment of abrupt, widespread [social distancing] during the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed for a more explicit appreciation of the magnitude of these risks in children and may inform strategies for infectious disease risk mitigation as social interaction increases in the future.”

Hatoun J, Trudell Correa E, Donahue SMA, et al. Social distancing for COVID-19 and Ddagnoses of other infectious diseases in children. Pediatrics. 2020;e2020006460; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2020-006460.