H3N2 Virus: Things you need to know about the H3N2 virus

According to the ICMR, the recent uptick in cases of intense cough lasting for over a week coupled with fever, in several parts of India, can be linked to the Influenza A subtype H3N2 virus.
H3N2 Virus: Things you need to know about the H3N2 virus

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently announced that the upsurge in cases of persistent coughing and fever in various parts of the country may be linked to the H3N2 virus. According to government officials, two individuals, one in Karnataka and one in Haryana, have passed away due to the influenza A subtype H3N2 virus, with around 90 cases of the virus reported across India. Dr. Nikhil Modi, a consultant in respiratory and critical care medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in Delhi, emphasized the need to reinstate preventive measures used during the COVID-19 pandemic, as viruses continue to evolve. He also advised against taking random medication and urged people not to panic.

All about the H3N2 virus

A study published in the journal Nature Communications in 2020 discovered that the virus strains that cause flu have undergone significant changes over the last five decades as people born in the late 1960s and 1970s were infected with the virus during childhood.

But what is a Flu? It is an infectious disease caused by four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C, and D. Influenza A is further categorized into various subtypes, with H3N2 being one of them. The 1968 flu pandemic, which resulted in the deaths of roughly one million individuals worldwide and approximately 100,000 in the US, was caused by the H3N2 virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.

According to the IMA, this virus typically preys on people under the age of 15 or over the age of 50. Children, as well as those with co-morbidities such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions, are more vulnerable. 

Symptoms of H3N2 infection

The symptoms of H3N2 are akin to those of regular flu and encompass a cough, fever, body aches, headache, sore throat, congested or runny nose, and severe tiredness. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea have been observed in only a small number of cases.

As per the Indian Medical Association (IMA), a typical H3N2 infection lasts for approximately five to seven days, with the fever subsiding after three days. Nonetheless, the coughing may persist for up to three weeks.

H3N2 Prevention

In an interview with The Indian Express, Dr. Modi advised that practicing good personal hygiene is the most effective method to prevent the spread of H3N2. This includes washing hands thoroughly before eating or touching the face, nose, or mouth, carrying pocket sanitizers, and avoiding contact with individuals already infected with the virus or any other seasonal flu. Furthermore, maintaining a nutritious diet that includes ample amounts of fruits and vegetables can greatly enhance one's immunity. The doctor also recommended consuming plenty of fluids and opting for homemade meals that are low in spice and fat as helpful measures.

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