India is currently witnessing a rise in the cases of H3N2 influenza and mild Covid-19. Both viral respiratory illnesses have similar symptoms, but they are caused by different viruses and have distinct characteristics too. Both H3N2 influenza and Covid-19 are highly contagious in nature and can spread through respiratory droplets. The viruses can be spread through coughing, sneezing, or even talking. It can also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces. The risk of these viral infections is higher in the elderly population, pregnant women, and people with underlying health conditions.
Here are some of the differences between Covid-19 and H3N2 influenza in terms of signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
Signs and Symptoms:
Covid-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and can lead to a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. The most common symptoms of Covid-19 infection include fever, cough, fatigue, body aches, and loss of taste or smell. Other symptoms can include sore throat, headache, diarrhoea, and shortness of breath, particularly in severe cases. It can also cause serious complications such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and multi-organ failure.
H3N2 influenza, on the other hand, is caused by the influenza A virus and can also cause a range of symptoms, including fever, cough, fatigue, body aches, and headache. Some people with H3N2 influenza may also experience sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and chills. The viral infection can also cause serious complications, particularly in older adults, young children, and people with underlying health conditions. These complications can include pneumonia, bronchitis, and worsening of chronic medical conditions.
Treatment for Covid-19 mainly involves supportive care to manage the symptoms, as there is no specific antiviral treatment that has been proven to be effective. But in severe cases, hospitalisation and oxygen therapy are required. In addition, vaccines have been developed and approved for use in preventing Covid-19 infection.
When it comes to H3N2 influenza, there are a few antiviral drugs that are Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved to treat flu, according to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. However, these prescribed antiviral drugs are only for the treatment of flu and not COVID-19.
Preventing the spread of Covid-19 and H3N2 influenza involves implementing a combination of public health measures and personal hygiene practices.
Public health measures include social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding large gatherings. These measures are effective in limiting the spread of respiratory viruses by reducing the likelihood of coming into contact with infected individuals and minimising the spread of respiratory droplets that can transmit the virus.
In addition to public health measures, personal hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing can help prevent the spread of Covid and H3N2 influenza. Getting vaccinated is also an effective way to prevent the spread of influenza and Covid.
Can someone be infected with H3N2 influenza and Covid at the same time?
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), yes, it is possible to get both diseases at the same time. Also, the most effective way to prevent hospitalisation, severe covid and influenza is vaccination, the organisation states.
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