H3N2 Influenza in India: Two people have died of influenza caused by the H3N2 virus in India so far. According to reports, one person has died in Haryana and the other in Karnataka.
The H3N2 influenza virus is one of the many strains of the influenza virus that can cause illness in humans. Reportedly, India has so far, recorded a total of 90 cases of H3N2 influenza. Additionally, eight cases of H1N1 influenza have also been reported in the country.
According to media reports, an 82-year-old man in Karnataka’s Hassan is believed to be the first to die of H3N2 in the country.
According to ICMR scientists, the H3N2, which has been in wide circulation for the past two-three months, causes more hospitalisations than other subtypes.
Earlier this month, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), on the other hand, has advised against the indiscriminate use of antibiotics amid rising cases of cough, cold, and nausea across the country. Seasonal fever will last five to seven days, it noted.
Over the past few months, cases of flu have been rising in the country. This virus causes more hospitalisations than other influenza subtypes in the country. Only H3N2 and H1N1 infections have been detected in India so far.
Both have symptoms similar to Covid, which infected millions across the world and caused 6.8 million deaths. The symptoms include persistent cough, fever, chills, breathlessness and wheezing. Patients have also reported nausea, sore throat, body-ache and diarrhoea. These symptoms can persist for about a week.
“Currently India is seeing spurt in Flu cases which declined during Covid-19 pandemic and research attributes this rise due to decline in natural immunity to Influenza viruses(Influenza A and B) and changes in virus resulting in increased infections. Apart from Infuenza viruses, RSV(respiratory syncytial virus) adenovirus and rhinovirus are also responsible for Flu like symptoms. The symptoms range from mild (a sudden onset of fever, cough usually dry, headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and a runny nose) to severe and even death. The cough can be severe and can last 2 or more weeks. Hospitalization and death occur mainly among high-risk groups (Children below 5, elderly and immunocompromised individuals,” Dr. Renuka Bajaj, Lab Head and Sr. Microbiologist, Ampath, Amritsar, told Financial Express.com.
According to Dr. Bajaj, post viral complications like secondary bacterial pneumonia can be debilitating requiring hospitalisation and antibiotic treatment. Seasonal influenza spreads easily, with rapid transmission in crowded areas including schools and nursing homes.
“When an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets containing viruses (infectious droplets) are dispersed into the air and can spread up to one meter, and infect persons in close proximity who breathe these droplets in. Though with mild illness there is nothing much to worry about and doctors prescribe symptomatic treatment but those with severe symptoms and high-risk individuals should seek timely medical help, get themselves tested for Flu and other such viruses. These days a number of rapid diagnostic modalities are available for early start of targeted therapy which help such patients in recovering early,” Dr. Bajaj added.
WHO recommends annual vaccination for prevention in pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy, children aged between 6 months to 5 years, elderly individuals (aged more than 65 years), individuals with chronic medical conditions and health-care workers.
“Apart from vaccination, one should avoid crowded places (wear masks), travel if not necessary, practice good hand and respiratory hygiene,” she said.