What is the H3N2 Virus? Symptoms, Precautious, Vaccine, Cases

Surges In H3N2 Virus Cases – Latest Information On The Flu: The country is currently witnessing spikes in viral infections and as per ICMR, the recent surges in intense cases are caused by H3N2. There are three deaths reported in India related to this H3N2, which is a kind of subtype of the influenza A strain. And this virus has its history among the three respiratory pandemics in the past century.

What is the H3N2 Virus?

H3N2 is a virus strain that causes influenza. This virus is suspected to have evolved from influenza A subtype H2N2, which contributes to the reason for the 1957 pandemic. The flu pandemic that had been faced in 1968 witnessed huge losses, in which more than one million people died across the world and almost 10,000 alone in the United States.

Right from then, H3N2 influenza viruses have evolved rapidly and during influenza season there has been found their prominent strain has been. Only the exception was the Covid pandemic period.

Recent information on the virus

Based on the latest news as per the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Integrated Disease Surveillance Project), there are approximately 600 influenza cases recorded so far and among them, 451 have been classified as H3N2. 

There are peak spikes in the H3N2 cases which have been noted in all states including Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi, and Karnataka. 

  • Earliertoday, Puducherry education minister A Namassivayam has given an announcement that from March 16 to March 26, 10 days, all schools in the Puducherry Union territory will be closed. This action has been taken on viewing the rising cases.
  • The observed 451 influenza virus cases were between the period of January 2 and March 5.
  • Two Deaths have been confirmed in India due to the H3N2 virus. One is in Karnataka and another in Haryana
  • The first death due to this virus has been reported in Hassan district in Karnataka. It was an 82-year-old man.
  • The third death was a 23-year-old MBBS student. Hope that he caught the virus when he was out with his friends. After he had returned from Alibaug in Konkan, he faced serious health issues and ended in death. There are traces of H3N2 found in the blood of this man which is evident from the post-mortem report.
  • Also, one death case has been reported in Gujarat. There are no exact details about this and confirmation details were not available. However, it’s a 52-year-old woman.
  • Out of the patients who are being hospitalized, 6% are observed to have seizures, 6% with clinical signs of pneumonia, 7% require Intensive care as they develop severe diseases, and 10% are found to have the need for supplemental oxygen. All these data are based on the ICMR data.
  • WHO has said that influenza types A viruses are known for their nature of causing pandemics and this H3N2 is often mentioned as the ‘problem child of seasonal flu’.
  • As per the data sourced from the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, there are also surges in H1N1 or swine flu cases, which were to be 955, till 28th February.

With the rising concerns of the H3N2 virus across the country, there are several steps taken by various states in order to curb the virus.

  • In Tamil Nadu, besides H3N2 cases, there are also 45 cases of swine flu. The Health Department of the state has made a circular that emphasizes on monitoring H3N2 cases in the respective districts.
  • Health Minister Ma Subramanian recently made a statement, as a precautionary measure, annual exams for students up to Class 9 will probably be preponed.
  • There are more than 1000 camps set up all over Tamil Nadu in the wake of the virus, especially in Chennai 200.
  • Karnataka state’s health minister Dr. K Sudhakar has arranged for a meeting with the officials and the health department is monitoring the cases
  • As far as the state of Delhi, the Medical Director said that there are 20 isolation wards set up and doctors and ventilation facilities are in ready condition to cope with the situation.

Symptoms of Influenza Virus H3N2

  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing
  • Cough and sore throat
  • Body ache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Running nose

Based on the information of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), the infection caused by this virus typically lasts for 5-7 days, where the fever subsides in three days and the cough continues for up to 3 weeks.

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How does it spread?

Typically, the virus spreads through the droplets of the affected person and it gets transmitted when the infected individual coughs, sneezes, or talks. 

Group of people more vulnerable to the flu

People such as children, elderly people, pregnant ladies, and those with underlying diseases are said to possess higher risks of getting infected.

To be precise, people in the age group below 15 years or above 50 years of age are more likely to be affected by the virus. Children and individuals having other diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological/neuro developmental conditions have higher risks for infection.

H3N2 Common Name

The H3N2 virus is a kind of subtype of the Influenza A virus, which is responsible for the common flu and ends up in general symptoms such as weakness, headache, and nasal congestion. This virus is also called Hong Kong flu.

Influenza A virus subtype H3N2

Influenza viruses which typically circulate in pigs are termed “variant” viruses if they are found in people. Also referred to as Influenza A H3N2 variant viruses (H3N2v viruses), these viruses have been found to cause severe hospitalizations compared with any other influenza subtypes, as per ICMR.

H3N2 Influenza, which belongs to a subtype of the Influenza A virus, causes respiratory illness among humans.

Preventing the spread of the virus

The Government has emphasized following self-hygiene and emphasized that that’s the best way to prevent the spread of the H3N2 virus. 

  • Wash your hands before you touch your face, mouth, or nose, and wash properly before eating.
  • Using sanitizer when you are outside and while you enter the home are suggested ways
  • Avoid contact with those who are infected with the virus or any other seasonal flu.
  • The government has indicated the need to use face masks and adhere to hand hygiene

Medication for the Infection

A healthy diet that includes a large portion of vegetables and fruits is recommended by the health department for boosting immunity. The Government has allowed Oseltamivir medication, as per the Schedule H1 of the Drug and Cosmetic Act in February 2017. 

The Health Ministry has recommended Oseltamivir, which is suggested by WHO, in order to treat the symptoms of the flu. Annual vaccination is the recommendation from WHO as the vaccine for the flu. Trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine was recommended by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare earlier.

Although Covid-19 cases have decreased considerably over the past few months, there could observe a gradual rise in Covid-19 test positivity rates in certain states. Along with H3N2 being a concerning issue, strictly following self-hygiene is the best option available now.

H3N2 Diagnostic Test

The most common method of testing taken for H3N2 influenza is a rapid influenza diagnostic test (RIDT). This test involves testing a sample of respiratory secretions, e.g. mucus from the throat or nose. The infected people can take the test either in a doctor’s office or in a healthcare setting.

A nucleic acid test (NAT) that analyzes the genetic material of the virus via a sample of respiratory secretions is another diagnostic test for this virus.

What is the cost of an H3N2 Diagnostic Test?

The cost of H3N2 and INFLUENZA B QUALITATIVE PCR Test is 3700/- Rs.

H3N2 Treatment at Home

If someone experiences the symptoms of H3N2 infection, it is advised to take complete rest and drink a lot of water to be hydrated. It is recommended by doctors to take painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen as a part of the H3N2 influenza treatment regimen for reducing the fever level.

WHO suggests doctors prescribe neuraminidase inhibitors at the earliest, which helps in maximizing therapeutic benefits. On the onset of symptoms, the infected individual should consult a doctor within the first 48 hours, thus preventing the severity of the disease.

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