Common cold, uncommon cost: Rhinovirus spread poses testing troubles

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The spread of the rhinovirus, which presents a challenge in its diagnosis due to the high cost of testing, is currently ongoing. Dr Manun Lichaweangwong, head of the respiratory disease unit and ICU at Vichaiyut Hospital, voiced his concerns regarding this today, January 4, via his Facebook page.

He explained that the virus, which is prevalent among both children and adults, is one of the top respiratory viruses, second only to the Covid-19 and influenza viruses.

Diagnosis remains difficult and requires expensive genetic testing. There are no instant and cost-effective testing kits available yet. Moreover, once a diagnosis is confirmed, there’s no antiviral treatment available. Instead, doctors treat the symptoms.

Rhinovirus, better known as the common cold virus, was traditionally known in A and B variants. These variants prefer the cooler temperatures of the nose, leading to symptoms like a runny nose and sore throat. However, in the past 20 years, a new C variant has emerged.

This variant can withstand higher temperatures, enabling it to infect the bronchial tubes or lungs and potentially cause bronchitis or pneumonia. Its symptoms are similar to other respiratory viruses like RSV and hMPV, making its identification challenging.

Manun cited a case of a 34 year old woman who presented with a cold, clear runny nose, and sore throat on December 21 last year. The patient requested genetic testing, which confirmed rhinovirus. She was treated symptomatically and improved within a week, with only a slight runny nose remaining.

Two days after the patient’s symptoms appeared, on December 23 her 36 year old husband also showed signs of infection – a runny nose, nasal irritation, and sore throat. He too requested genetic testing, which confirmed the Rhinovirus. His treatment was equally successful, improving within a week with only minor symptoms persisting.

Manun’s revelation underscores the need for vigilant monitoring of respiratory viruses, especially during a pandemic. This is crucial because the Rhinovirus has no antiviral treatment or vaccine, and the only measure is to treat the symptoms.

In related news, back in 2022, the first death from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in Thailand‘s Nakhon Ratchasima raised concerns with doctors warning of a potential increased virulence.

Thailand News

Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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