The influenza virus has long been a global health concern, with millions of cases reported each year. However, in recent months, there has been a sharp rise in the number of reported cases of H3N2, a strain of the influenza virus known for its severity. Let’s explore the H3N2 influenza virus, its symptoms, transmission, and prevention measures.
Dr Kuldeep Kumar Grover, Head of critical care and Pulmonology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurgaon, says, “Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system. The flu is highly contagious and is spread through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks around an uninfected person. Influenza has four subtypes: A, B, C, and D, with A and B being the most widely recognised to generate seasonal epidemics.”
Influenza has four subtypes: A, B, C, and D, with A and B being the most widely recognised to generate seasonal epidemics.
The number of influenza virus cases has been on a steep incline, in recent days. “There have been many, such cases and in fact, maybe every third or fourth case has symptoms related to chest and throat. Many of these cases are those that are coming back from, overseas travel or visiting crowded territories from where they picked up the infection. Many of them are showing super rated bacterial components, thus adding the need for antibiotics maybe two, three, four days down the line,” says Dr Rajiv Dang, Senior Director and HOD – Internal Medicine and Medical Director, Max Hospital, Gurugram.
But on an average, all the patients are taking more time to recover than seen in other such viral illnesses. “The virus can also survive on surfaces, making it easy to contract. Some of the most common symptoms include prolonged fever, cough, running nose and body pain. But in severe cases people may also experience breathlessness or wheezing,” adds Dr Grover.
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Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body pains, exhaustion, and, in rare situations, diarrhoea and vomiting. “In extreme cases, the flu can cause pneumonia or other life-threatening illnesses. If your fever or cough lasts more than a week, you should seek medical help since it might be the flu, and delayed treatment can lead to serious medical complications,” opines Dr Dang.
It is imperative to get yourself immunized, to be relatively isolated, to avoid visiting areas which are badly congested, and to follow Covid appropriate behaviour which includes no touching and basic hygiene practices.
“Using antibiotics without a proper prescription or taking them in inadequate doses can be harmful to patients and won’t provide any benefits. Moreover, some patients who have never experienced wheezing before are now developing wheezy chest due to improper use of antibiotics. In such cases, administering steroids may be necessary for recovery, but fortunately, many patients are recovering comfortably and fully,” adds Dr Dang.
Dr Grover busts some myths that surround the H3N2 virus at the moment
Myth: Covid vaccine is helpful and can be used against H3N2 virus
Truth: Not correct at all. Influenza is a different flu from Covid and thus the vaccine of two also differ. It is suggested for everyone to take the flu vaccine to battle against influenza.
Myth: Self-use of antibiotics as a medication is correct
Truth: No. Antibiotics are preferred for bacterial infections, but nowadays antibiotics are very commonly consumed by people which is an absolute wrong practice. People with such symptoms should reach out for medical assistance and should only take medicines as prescribed by the doctor.
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