Two deaths reported due to H3N2 influenza in India
India is facing an outbreak of influenza caused by the H3N2 virus, with two deaths reported by the government today, one in Haryana and the other in Karnataka. The outbreak is believed to have caused around 90 cases of the virus in the country, with eight cases of the H1N1 virus also detected.
The first death reported was an 82-year-old man in Karnataka’s Hassan. Hire Gowda was admitted to the hospital on February 24 and died on March 1. According to officials, he was a diabetic and suffered from hypertension. Cases of the flu have been increasing in India over the past few months, with the H3N2 virus, also known as the “Hong Kong flu,” causing most of the infections. This virus causes more hospitalizations than other influenza subtypes in the country.
H3N2 virus causing most of the infections in India
The symptoms of H3N2 and H1N1 are similar to Covid-19, which has infected millions worldwide and caused 6.8 million deaths. After two years of the pandemic, rising flu cases have triggered concern among people. The common symptoms include persistent cough, fever, chills, breathlessness, and wheezing, with nausea, sore throat, body-ache, and diarrhea also reported. These symptoms can persist for about a week.
Admission to hospital has not been very common and only about 5 per cent cases have been reported to be hospitalised,” added Tarun Sahani, senior consultant, internal medicine, Apollo Hospitals.
While there is no need to panic yet, Sahani said it is advisable to take precautions similar to those taken during Covid times.
“… if most of the infected people recover albeit slow, it should be fine,” said virologist Upasana Ray, alumni member of Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS) and member of Global Young Academy (GYA).
To prevent the spread of the virus, experts advise taking Covid-like precautions, including regular washing of hands and masks. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends covering one’s mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing, plenty of fluids, avoiding touching the eyes and nose, and taking paracetamol for fever and body ache.
In light of the rising cases of H3N2 and H1N1, the Indian government has issued guidelines for the public to prevent the spread of the virus. The dos and don’ts include:
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Wear a mask in public places and maintain social distancing.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you feel unwell or experience flu-like symptoms.
- Take plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Take paracetamol for fever and body aches as recommended by a healthcare professional.
- Do not touch your face, especially the eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Do not share personal items such as towels, utensils, and clothes with others.
- Do not go to crowded places if you are sick or have flu-like symptoms.
The Indian government has also urged people to get vaccinated against the flu to protect themselves and others from the virus. The vaccine is safe and effective and is available at most healthcare facilities in the country.
In conclusion, the outbreak of H3N2 and H1N1 influenza in India has caused concern among people, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is important for the public to follow the dos and don’ts recommended by the Indian government and healthcare professionals to prevent the spread of the virus. Getting vaccinated against the flu is also an effective way to protect oneself and others from the virus.
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