Doctor reveals three groups most at risk of falling sick from new rhinovirus

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Those with untreated asthma, COPD or an impaired immunity are most at risk of becoming sick from a Rhinovirus, a respiratory expert has stated.

Medics have warned that the virus currently circulating in the community means even those who don't have Covid-19 could still pose a potential health risk to others.

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Now a leading physician has outlined those who are most likely to fall ill.

It comes as the Department of Health asked people who are experiencing the symptoms to stay home and isolate – even if they have tested negative for Covid.

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The Belfast Trust's Dr Joe Kidney says people who become sick as a result of a rhinovirus usually see it develop in people as a common cold, BelfastLive reports.

Doctor reveals three groups most at risk of falling sick from new rhinovirus

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Those with untreated asthma could fall sick, the medic has warned ( Image: Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF)

Dr Kidney said that most people who are infected with a rhinovirus only experience the symptoms of a cold, however there are certain groups who are more at risk of developing a more serious infection, such as asthmatics, those with COPD or an impaired immune system.

He said that around 12% of the population has the virus in their nose at any one time and it is most likely to replicate in colder temperatures.

Due to their changing nature it can be difficult to build a full immunity to them and it is possible to be infected by a rhinovirus within weeks of recovering from one.

Dr Kidney said: “I think we all get about six colds a year under normal circumstances and our bodies might have forgotten that during the lockdown.

Doctor reveals three groups most at risk of falling sick from new rhinovirus

People with COPD or an impaired immunity could also be at risk ( Image: Getty Images)

“The majority of those are rhinovirus and there are around 12% of us that have a rhinovirus in our nose at any one time and they like to replicate in colder temperatures such as 32 degrees rather than 37, which is our body temperature. So when it gets cold outside it replicates in our nose which is why we call them colds.

“Most of the symptoms are of a cold, cough, runny nose, sinusitis and they can make you feel just rotten but often not very very ill, where flu is much more likely to give you temperatures. Although you can still get aches and pains with rhinovirus as well.

“The issue is now we are looking at people with runny noses and we want to know if they have coronavirus and the answer is they might do, but with a runny nose that can actually be a rhinovirus as well.”

Dr Kidney said that while the majority of people only experience cold like symptoms from a Rhinovirus, there are groups who are particularly at risk, with the virus being the cause of around 80% of asthma exacerbations.

Doctor reveals three groups most at risk of falling sick from new rhinovirus

Around 12% of the population has the virus in their nose at any one time ( Image: Getty Images)

He continued: “Poorly controlled asthmatics are a real risk group and these are people who should be taking preventer treatments, a brown or red inhaler.

“They feel well between the episodes so they feel an the urgency to take medication because they are getting by with their relievers or blue inhalers, and then they can get very sick with a rhinovirus infection, so probably rhinovirus is responsible for 80% of asthma exacerbations and while it is very uncommon now, asthma deaths do occur.

“What I used to say is the common cold can be uncommonly dangerous to some people.

“The other that gets very sick are those with COPD, and an exaserpatation is the second commonest cause for people coming into hospital.”

Dr Kidney warned that Northern Ireland is currently seeing almost a peak number of Coronavirus cases, with Scotland recording its highest ever figure last week.

However he says that the progress that has been made with treatments for virus have proven to be very effective, with NI having the lowest mortality rate of any country in the UK.

He said: “The great thing about the coronavirus is the vaccine, people who have been getting very very sick with coronavirus before are not now and the vaccine has been a huge success, it has been one of the greatest victories of science in this century.

“Our huge achievement has been the vaccine and it would be unkind of me not to mention all the drugs that have been developed during the trials, they have tremendously changed people.

“We had a lot of new treatments pioneered at the Mater, the Covid hospital for Belfast. Lots of patients took part and we tried about 11 drugs, four of which are now in use and it substantially changed how we do things.

“It was a real roll up your sleeves and get this job done effort and people were remarkable. It was great to see that collectively we could find the new treatments and see them rolled out right in front of our eyes, it was great to make that change.”

The doctor issued one last warning about the Rhinovirus saying: “We have been getting them for years and if you are healthy you will get a cold but if you are susceptible it could make you sicker.

“People with asthma need to take their preventers, they could be between infections and they could get sick with a rhinovirus and COPD often lands people in hospital. It is best not to get them if you are vulnerable.

“I worry about older people taking care of young people, it can be a great spreader of these colds.”

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