In order to protect India against the H3N2 virus, experts there have recommended heightened surveillance and preventative measures.
They have stated that there is now no need for alarm, nevertheless. India has already reported its first two influenza-related fatalities.
On March 1, Hire Gowda, 82, a diabetic with hypertension, passed away in Karnataka as a result of the seasonal influenza subtype H3N2 virus. A 56-year-old lung cancer sufferer passed away, according to a report from Haryana.
According to information released by the ministry on Friday, 451 instances of the H3N2 virus have been documented in the nation between January 2 and March 5. It said that it is closely monitoring the situation and that instances should start to fall by month’s end.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the H3N2 virus is a non-human influenza virus that mostly affects pigs but has also infected people (CDC). Similar to seasonal flu viruses, the symptoms might include fever, respiratory symptoms like cough and runny nose, and perhaps additional symptoms including body aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
H3N2 virus deaths increasing
While worries grew and several people questioned whether this would end up being another Covid, pulmonologist Anurag Agrawal said he doesn’t anticipate a significant wave.
“Admission to hospital has not been particularly prevalent and just approximately 5 per cent of cases have been recorded to be admitted,” stated Tarun Sahani, senior consultant, internal medicine, Apollo Hospitals.
While there is now no reason to worry, Sahani advised taking safeguards akin to those used during the Covid era.
According to virologist Upasana Ray, a former member of the Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS) and a member of the Global Young Academy (GYA), if the majority of the sick persons recover, even if slowly, everything should be well.
She observed that while lockdowns and prolonged mask wear helped restrict the spread of more dangerous virus strains, they also hindered good exposure to seasonal respiratory viruses.
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Ray hypothesised that we may have lost some immunity to the variants of these other respiratory viruses that are currently spreading because of at least two years of intensive, widespread mask use.
H3N2 epidemics are more severe than typical flu outbreaks, and they can “in fact cause mortality,” according to Agrawal.
According to Agrawal, dean of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, “I wouldn’t expect to see a major wave” because there is broad protection against the flu and vaccinations are available, but any breakouts and fatalities are cause for concern.
Sahani observed that since the beginning of 2023, the number of H3N2 virus infections in India has dramatically increased.
“This time of year, the incidence is two to three times greater than usual. This virus is recognised as an influenza subtype. a virus that is widespread at this time of year, “Sahani was cited by PTI as adding.
Although the Covid epidemic seems to be ending, a considerable number of people are still experiencing a wave of respiratory diseases, with many of them harbouring influenza viruses including H3N2 virus, adenovirus, and H1N1.
Up to March 9, states reported a total of 3,038 laboratory-confirmed cases of various influenza subtypes, including H3N2, according to the most recent information on the IDSP-IHIP (Integrated Health Information Platform).
There were 1,245 incidents in January, 1,307 in February, and 486 up to March 9th, according to the report.
The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network allows the Union Health Ministry to monitor the seasonal influenza status in various states and UTs in real time.
According to Agrawal, influenza monitoring is a crucial aspect of public health.
The previous head of the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Agrawal, predicted that integrated respiratory virus monitoring will improve in the future.
Ray concurred, stating that disease surveillance is urgently required to address the issue.