MARCH 10, 2023
India registered two deaths due to H3N2 influenza, official government sources told News18. They stated that Karnataka recorded one death and Haryana the second.
The country so far has reported a total of 90 cases of H3N2 influenza, and eight cases of H1N1. Sources said that India currently has detected these two types of influenza virus circulating in the population.
Karnataka H3N2 Cases
The death in Karnataka comes days after its health minister K Sudhakar said there is no need to panic regarding influenza A H3N2 variant virus infection in the state.
He had also said that guidelines will be released soon for people to take precautions, and an order will be issued instructing the health staff of all the hospitals to wear face masks compulsorily.
On Monday, Sudhakar had said that 26 persons tested positive for the H3N2 variant in the state, and among these two cases are reported from Bengaluru.
He added that children below the age of 15 years face more danger from the H3N2 variant and that the variant also infects persons above the age of 60 years.
Haryana H3N2 Cases
The doctors in Haryana’s Gurgaon, in Delhi neighborhood, recently said that the H3N2 influenza virus is behind the sudden spike in cases of viral infection and respiratory issues across the capital and neighboring regions.
“We are witnessing 40% of the viral fever cases with H3N2 currently,” a Times of India report quoted Dr. Amitabh Parti, director of internal medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
“Several people are coming to the hospital with post-viral bronchitis because of H3N2. This occurs when an immune reaction in the airways in the lungs after the acute infection of the virus settles down, and that produces spasm, shortness of breath, persistent dry cough with heaviness in the chest,” he had said.
Gurugram’s chief medical officer Dr Virender Yadav also admitted that there is a spike in viral cases at present. “This is not unusual. Every year during January and February, the viral cases rise because of weather conditions. People need to take precautions. Most of them are getting better within a week,” he added.
H3N2 Influenza: Symptoms and Precaution
The country has seen an unexpected increase in Covid and H3N2 cases, which has experts concerned. Despite the fact that reported cases remain quite low, India has seen a 63% increase in cases over the last week.
Dr. Randeep Guleria, chairman of the Institute of Internal Medicine, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, and Director of Medical Education, told ANI that the H3N2 virus mutates every year during this time and spreads through droplets.
“H3N2 is a type of influenza virus, which we see every year during this time of the year. But it is a virus which mutates over time called antigenic drift. We had a pandemic many years ago because of H1N1. The circulating strain of that virus is now H3N2 and, therefore, it is a normal influenza strain,” he said.
According to the US Centre of Disease Control (CDC), H3N2 infection symptoms are comparable to seasonal flu viruses and can include fever, respiratory symptoms such as cough and runny nose, and possibly additional symptoms such as body aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
Dr Guleria said that this influenza virus spreads the same as Covid-19, through droplets. “Only those who have associated comorbidities need to be careful. For precaution, wear a mask, wash hands frequently, have physical distancing. For influenza also, there is a vaccine for high-risk groups and the elderly. Its symptoms are fever, sore throat, cough, body aches and cold,” the former AIIMS-Delhi director added.
The ICMR recently issued an advisory asking people to avoid self-medication and use of antibiotics in this influenza outbreak. An India Today report quoted a doctor of Fortis internal medicine, Vishal Gupta, as saying: “This influenza is also spreading because of the pollution aggregating factors and mostly people not wearing masks.”
The report stated that Dr. Gupta advised people to maintain their immunity and wear masks in crowded places. Besides keeping themselves hydrated, they must avoid use of cold water, ice-cream, cold drinks or oily food, he added.