H3N2 Influenza Virus: India has been in a grip of the influenza A subtype H3N2 virus which has created panic in the nation. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data, however, reports a combination of respiratory viruses ranging from Covid-19 virus, swine flu (H1N1), H3N2, and the seasonal Victoria and Yamagata lineages of influenza B viruses, as responsible. A total of 3,038 lab-confirmed cases of various subtypes of influenza including H3N2 have been reported till March 9 by the states, as per the latest data available on IDSP-IHIP (Integrated Health Information Platform). 

Apart from H3N2 influenza, two other important circulating influenza are Influenza A H1N1, and Influenza B Victoria. The ICMR data, however, reports a combination of respiratory viruses ranging from Covid-19 virus, swine flu (H1N1), H3N2, and the seasonal Victoria and Yamagata lineages of influenza B viruses, as responsible.

Meanwhile, the Covid infection has also reported a spike after four months as daily Covid cases were reported at 524 on Sunday (March 12).

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Health Ministry On Influenza

“The IDSP-IHIP data from health facilities indicate that during the month of January 2023, a total of 397,814 cases of Acute Respiratory Illness/Influenza Like Illness (ARI/ILI) were reported from the country that increased slightly to 436,523 during February 2023. In the first 9 days of March 2023, this number stands at 133,412 cases,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.

“Seasonal H3N2 flu is a human flu from H3N2 that is slightly different from one of the previous year’s flu season H3N2 variants. Seasonal influenza viruses flow out of overlapping epidemics in East Asia and Southeast Asia, then trickle around the globe before dying off. Identifying the source of the viruses allows global health officials to better predict which viruses are most likely to cause the most disease over the next year,” said Shuchin Bajaj, a doctor, and director at Ujala Cygnus Hospitals.

Meanwhile, the ministry has said: “Oseltamivir is the drug recommended by WHO. The drug is made available through the Public Health System free of cost. The government has allowed the sale of Oseltamivir under Schedule H1 of the Drug and Cosmetic Act in February 2017 for wider accessibility and availability.”

Signs You Might Be Affected By Influenza 

– As per ICMR, over 90 percent of patients were hospitalised due to severe acute respiratory infections, where they were showing up with fever and cough. 

– 27 percent of patients are showing symptoms of breathlessness, while 16 percent were showing wheezing symptoms.

– Over 15 percent of patients have shown signs of pneumonia and 6 percent have reported seizures.  

– There is a high chance that an infected person may also experience gastric problems like loose motions and vomiting. 

“Many patients at day five or six of the illness start complaining of fullness in the ears or feel like something is blocked inside the ears. It is more common in young adults,” Rajiv Gupta, Consultant – Internal Medicine, at CK Birla Hospital told IANS.

Precautionary Measures For H3N2 Influenza Flu

Senior citizens and children are among the most vulnerable to contracting the seasonal flu, including the H3N2 influenza virus. People with asthma, obesity, heart disease and diabetes have a higher chance of getting infected. Hence, here are some precautionary measures to be taken: 

Vaccination:

Annual flu vaccinations should be obtained. It is advised to receive it by the end of October.

Hand hygiene:

Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the restroom, before consuming food, and before touching your face, nose, or mouth.

Crowded areas:

Avoid crowded areas as the virus can spread easily there. 

Interactions:

Restrict your interactions with sick people.

Self-Quarantine:

In case of flu, stay at home for 24 hours after the fever has subsided. We must also cover our mouths while coughing or sneezing to avoid spreading the illness.

(With inputs from IANS)



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