H3N2 on the rise in the country causing more hospitalizations than other types of flu infections.
Hyderabad, 18th April 2023: Recent reports from ICMR show that cases of flu caused by the virus H3N2 is spreading across the country. This viral strain causes prolonged illness and has led to more hospitalizations than flu infections caused by other type of strains[i]. People whose immunity is weak are more likely to suffer from complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and seizures, where H3N2 can also be life-threatening in some cases[ii]. ICMR data show that in the past three months, 10% of SARI* patients hospitalized with H3N2 complications needed oxygen and 7% required ICU careii.
H3N2 is a sub-type of influenza A virusiii. Every year during seasonal changes, the temperature change causes flu viruses to rise and spread fast. Annually some subtypes spread more than othersiv. All flu viruses, including H3N2, spread through an infected individual when they cough, sneeze, or talk. They can also spread when uninfected people touch an object or surface contaminated by these viruses and then touch their nose or mouthv.
People most at risk for H3N2 and other strains of flu are children below 5 years of age, ageing adults, pregnant women, and those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, kidney disease and heart disease.vi The main symptoms of flu infection are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffed nose and headache & bodyaches. In H3N2 infection, the fever usually lasts for three days, but the cough can persist for 3 weeks.vii
Dr. M Surendranath, Pediatrician, Vijay Marie Hospitals, says, “Flu viruses, such as the H3N2 sub-type is currently on the rise and may cause severe illness in children leading to hospitalisations. I would like to advice that all parents speak to their doctor about 4-in-1 flu vaccination, which can protect against H3N2 & 3 other flu strains.”
“Flu can be serious in people with weak immunity. In these people, the H3N2 sub-type of flu, which is on the rise, may lead hospitalisations. I advise that all adults above 50 years, pregnant women, and those who suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma, consult their doctor about 4-in-1 flu vaccination.” says Dr. Prassanna Kumar Reddy, Chest Physician, Breathe Free! Lung Clinic.
Various Health Authorities recommend seasonal flu vaccination for high-risk groups such as healthcare workers, pregnant women, people suffering from chronic diseases, older adults above 65 years of age and children between 6 months – 5 years of ageviii. Other measures advised by doctors to prevent H3N2 flu and stop its spreadi are to wash hands frequently, use masks in crowded places and avoid contact with an infected person.