No Need To Panic Over H3N3

Two deaths due to seasonal influenza subtype H3N2 were reported in the last 24 hours in India. At the same time, the Union health ministry said that it was keeping a close watch on the situation and cases are expected to decline from month end.

Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses which circulate in all parts of the world, and the cases are seen to increase during certain months globally.

From January 2 to March 5, 451 cases of H3N2 have been reported in the country, according to data shared by the ministry.

According to the officials, around 50 cases of H1N1 (swine flu), of which H3N2 is a variant, were reported in the last two months at CD hospital in Srinagar.

Such patients, the experts said, have Covid-19 like symptoms but their results are being found negative for the pathogen but positive for influenza H1N1. Patients usually have Covid-19 symptoms like fever, mild cough and running nose.

As per the union health ministry, young children and old age persons with comorbidities are the most vulnerable groups in the context of seasonal influenza.

In an advisory issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) last week, people have been urged to wash hands with soap and water if symptomatic, wear masks and avoid crowded places, and cover mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing.

Being the apex health research body, it also advised people to take plenty of liquids, avoid touching eyes and nose, and take paracetamol for fever and bodyache.

Among the dont’s, it has urged people not to shake hands or use other contact greetings, spit in public, not to take antibiotics or other medicines without consulting doctor and eat together sitting close to others.

Given the situation and also previous drastic impact of the covid-19 waves, there is need for adherence to instructions and advice by the government. The importance of masks is worthwhile. Wearing a well-fitting mask, covering one’s mouth and nose, should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives.

At the same time the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection against it. There is a need for also taking other simple precautions such as cleaning hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. The government’s advisory should be followed in letter and spirit for avoiding future exigencies.

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