Kidney patients more vulnerable to corona infections: Docs

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Prof. Vivekanand Jha

Rohit Shishodia
Nephrologists have said that the patients on dialysis have higher risk of contracting transmission of corona virus infection due to their inability to stay at home and regular travel for getting dialysis.

In a paper entitled “The Novel Corona virus 2019 Epidemic and the Kidneys”, nephrologists, including those from China, have pointed out that all family members living with dialysis patients must follow the precautions and regulations given to patients to prevent person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 within the family.

The precautions include body temperature measurement, good personal hygiene, hand washing, and prompt reporting of potentially sick people. The results of the study have been published in the journal 'Kidney International'.

Doctors say that coronavirus presents particular challenges for patients who receive regular haemodialysis. Patients with damaged kidneys, also known as uremic patients, are particularly vulnerable to infection and may exhibit greater variations in clinical symptoms and infectivity.

“Unlike other at-risk individuals, patients with damaged kidney do not have the ability to stay at home and not interact with others. Despite the high risk they face, they must travel to dialysis centers 2–3 times every week," said  Prof. Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, George Institute for Global Health India and President of the International Society of Nephrology.  

"This significantly increases the risk of transmission of infection to patients themselves, family members, medical staff and facility workers, and all others,” added Dr Jha.

The involvement of kidney in COVID-19 infection seems to be frequent. When the infection is severe, it becomes an independent predictor of mortality.

"The management of patients on dialysis who have been suspected to have been in contact with COVID-19 patients should be carried out according to strict protocols to minimize risk to other patients and healthcare personnel taking care of these patients,” said Prof. Jha. These guidelines have been made available on the International Society of Nephrology website.

As per earlier reports of SARS and MERS-CoV infections, acute kidney injury (AKI) had developed in 5 to15 percent cases and about 60 to 90 percent of those cases reported mortality.

In the case of patients with COVID-19 infection, preliminary reports suggested a lower incidence (3 to 9 percent) of AKI but later reports indicate a higher frequency of kidney abnormalities. A study of 59 patients with COVID-19 found that about two-thirds of patients developed a massive leak of protein in urine during their stay in hospital.

Doctors have recommended that persons with potential COVID-19 risk must be given the same supportive care as given to critically ill patients. Supportive care includes bed rest, nutritional and fluid support, maintenance of blood pressure and oxygenation, prevention and treatment of complications by providing organ support, maintaining hemodynamic stability, and preventing secondary infection,” they added.


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