Delhi-NCR residents are reeling from prolonged fever and cough, breathing problems off late. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)'s latest report, the residents are not suffering from any casual fever but it is a virus that has gripped the larger population.

IMA said Influenza A subtype H3N2 is responsible for large cases of fever and breathlessness in Delhi and its adjoining cities-Noida, Gurugram, and Faridabad.

Concurrently, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has asked medical practitioners to stop prescribing antibiotics for the H3N2 flu treatment.

The ICMR's surveillance data from December 15 to date reflects the rise in the number of cases of influenza A H3N2. About half of all inpatient severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and outpatient influenza-like illnesses were found to have influenced A H3N2.

The ICMR stated the subtype appears to cause more hospitalizations than other influenza subtypes.

Among the severe acute respiratory infection with influenza A H3N2, about 92% are suffering from fever, 86% from cough, 27% from breathlessness, 16% with wheezing, 16% showing signs of pneumonia, and 6% has seizures. Also, 7% of the patients required ICU care.

Dr Suresh Kumar, Medical Superintendent of Lok Nayak Hospital told Live Hindustan (Mint's sister publication) that the H3N2 influenza has largely affected children below 5 years and people above 60 years. Besides, the virus is detrimental to diabetic patients and people reeling from lung-related diseases.

H3N2 symptoms:

As per the IMA, the key symptoms of the H3N2 virus are--cough, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, fever, body ache, and diarrhoea.

Duration of H3N2 influenza:

The infection usually lasts for about five to seven days. The fever goes away at the end of three days, but the cough can persist for up to three weeks.

Dos and Don’ts to protect from the H3N2 virus:

The ICMR has suggested people wash their hands regularly and avoid shaking hands and spitting in public.

The "Dos" include washing hands with soap and water. If symptomatic, wear masks and avoid crowded places, cover mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing, take plenty of fluids, avoid touching eyes and nose, and take paracetamol for fever and body ache.

While the "don'ts" include shaking hands or using other contact greetings, spitting in public, taking antibiotics or other medicines without consulting a doctor, eating together sitting close to others.

Misuse of antibiotics:

The IMA in its latest notification wrote, "Give only symptomatic treatment, no need to give antibiotics. But right now, people start taking antibiotics like Azithromycin and Amoxiclav etc, that too without caring for dose and frequency and stop it once start feeling better. This needs to be stopped as it leads to antibiotic resistance".

The most misused antibiotics are amoxicillin, norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin. These are being used for diarrhoea and Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), Dr Sharad Kumar Agarwal National President, IMA said.

"It is necessary to diagnose whether the infection is bacterial or not before prescribing antibiotics," he added.

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