Their symptoms have fewer mysteries than those of Covid-19.
The so-called winter viruses, such as influenza, gastroenteritis, bronchiolitis, or even the common cold, well known to the French could well spare them this year thanks in particular to one of the effects of the coronavirus epidemic: use repeated barrier gestures.
Some diseases have already receded according to several doctors.
Initiated when the Covid-19 arrived in France, the surveillance of the first influenza season was naturally affected, notes Public Health France.
The agency had to prematurely end its study of the epidemic in March, "a little before the usual end of the flu surveillance period."
Despite these upheavals, Public Health, which relies on three networks: Sentinelles, Oscour - the organization of the coordinated surveillance of emergencies - and SOS Médecins, was able to establish its annual robot portrait of the influenza epidemic, published end of October.
The result: one of the shortest flu epidemics, low mortality and few consultations.
An incidence rate "far below" from previous years
According to data from Public Health France, this first influenza season 2019-2020 indeed lasted nine weeks, “ie two weeks less than the average duration of influenza epidemics since the 2010-2011 season in France.
Hospitalizations and consultation rates for influenza also fell during the epidemic, which peaked in early February.
Among emergency visits for flu syndrome, 6,164 (10%) resulted in hospitalization, continues Public Health France.
This proportion is lower than that observed in previous years: 16% in 2018-2019 and 13% in 2017-2018. Figures which could be explained by the "nature" of influenza viruses in circulation, which particularly affected young people, less prone to hospitalizations and severe forms.
The southern hemisphere totally spared
But flu epidemics are always "variable" reminds the Parisian Serge Samdja, secretary general of SOS Médecins.
"For this season, the flu is not there yet," he insists.
According to the latest bulletin from Public Health France, between early October and early November, among the 188 nasopharyngeal samples analyzed, no influenza virus was detected.
“The flu epidemics usually occur in December, and from January.
But we start to catch the flu head on in November.
This year, the virus detection levels are lower than in previous years, ”assures Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin, epidemiologist at Public Health France.
Encouraging signs also with regard to the situation outside our borders.
“What you have to compare is the entire winter period.
It has been observed that in the southern hemisphere the flu has been weak this year, we can hypothesize that this will follow here ”, advances the specialist cautiously.
As Public Health France confirms, no flu epidemic was detected during the southern winter.
Thanks to the repeated use of barrier gestures, say many specialists.
"There is a consensus to say that the barrier gestures, the hydroalcoholic gel, were useful", according to Serge Smadja.
A particularly important vaccination
Another explanation is the probable “viral interference phenomena” which would prevent or severely limit the concomitant circulation of SARS-CoV-2 and seasonal respiratory viruses, such as influenza.
Covid-19: what if the cold season ... delayed the second wave
So, will we experience the traditional flu this winter?
“We are not able to say whether the flu will circulate or not in France and elsewhere, but we are monitoring it everywhere.
And the surveillance systems have been maintained or even supported, ”emphasizes Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin.
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The health authorities, who do not rule out “co-infections” with other viruses, are in any case particularly vigilant, to avoid any traffic jam in the healthcare system.
"There will be the difficulty of the proximity of the symptoms between the flu and the Covid", recalls Serge Smadja, who recalls the importance of vaccination this year in particular.
"Vaccination and barrier measures will be a bulwark against the flu epidemic", also proclaims Doctor Gérald Kierzek.
"Vaccination on an individual basis is particularly important but also because it will allow the doctor to make a differential diagnosis: if a patient is vaccinated against the flu, and presents symptoms of Covid, I will rather go towards this track", illustrates the doctor.
"Covid-19 does not prevent all viruses from circulating"
What is certain is that the practices are already deserted by other pathologies.
“In the office, I have almost only two types of patients: those who have symptoms of Covid or are in contact, and those with depression.
There are much fewer seasonal viral diseases such as gastroenteritis or nasopharyngitis, ”noted a general practitioner this weekend in a log hosted on the site of the newspaper Le Monde.
"There is no bronchiolitis, which should start", adds Serge Smadja.
By way of comparison, last year, at the same period 1,923 children under two years of age were seen in the emergency room for bronchiolitis during the week, against 268 this week, according to Public Health France.
Gastroenteritis as well as nasopharyngitis would also be absent subscribers, according to several general practitioners interviewed by the Parisian, who praise the barrier gestures.
Only rhinoviruses seem to resist.
"Covid-19 does not prevent all viruses from circulating, but their impact is markedly reduced compared to previous years, thanks to barrier gestures in the first place," recalls Dr Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin.