While influenza is a seasonal occurrence, in the present season a variety of weather conditions and behavioural reasons, like less than adequate attention to personal hygiene and cough etiquette make the environment conducive to the circulation of a number of viral respiratory pathogens like Influenza A (H1N1, H3N2 etc), adenoviruses etc.

Seasonal Influenza A (H3N2, H1N1 etc) is a viral disease and is self-limiting but if symptoms do not subside, people should report to the nearest health facility. The Department of Health has issued an advisory about seasonal Influenza A (H3N2, H1N1 etc.)

Symptoms: Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, difficulty in breathing, body aches, headache, chills, diarrhoea, vomiting, blood in sputum, fatigue. People with certain chronic conditions (Diabetes, hypertension, airway disease and heart disease etc), adults 65 years or older, children younger than five years and pregnant women may be at higher risk for severe illness.

Dos & Don’ts

Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with soap, wear a mask and avoid crowded places, and stay more than at an arm’s length from persons afflicted with flu. Get adequate sleep, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food and take paracetamol for fever and bodyaches. Don’t shake hands, hug, spit in public and eat together sitting close to others. Do not take antibiotics or other medicines without consulting a doctor.

Report to the nearest identified health facility if symptoms aggravate (high fever, difficulty in breathing, blue colour of the skin or lips, blood in sputum or altered behaviour. Stay at home, if advised by the doctor. Do not travel or go to work or school and reduce exposure within your household and avoid close contact with others for seven days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours whichever is longer.

Dr A K Mandal, director, Pulmonology, Sleep and Critical Care, Fortis Mohali, says the hospital has been witnessing a spurt in respiratory viral infections with some causing severe pneumonia requiring hospitalisation and a few requiring invasive ventilatory support. “We saw an initial predominance of H1N1 in October – November which changed to H3N2 from December onwards. The approximate number of patients testing positive would be in the range of 35 – 55 per month (on average) with around 60-75% being positive for H3N2,” says Dr Mandal.

Prof Sanjay Jain, head, Department of Internal Medicine, PGI, says: “The peak of seasonal flu was seen from November to February. With the onset of summer, the cases will decrease. At PGI, we saw routine cases of influenza A & B and most cases manifested mild disease. People above 65 with co-morbidities experienced a longer duration of flu with persistent cough and fever, and also respiratory issues.

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