Monitoring H3N2 is imperative
By: Vijay Kumar H K
Experts in India have suggested that increased monitoring and precautionary measures are needed to combat the H3N2 virus in the country.India has already confirmed its first two influenza-related deaths.
According to data released by the ministry two days back, 600 cases of H3N2 were reported in the country between January and March. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, H3N2 is a non-human influenza virus that normally circulates in pigs and has infected humans (CDC).
Symptoms are similar to seasonal flu viruses and can include fever, respiratory symptoms like coughing and running nose, and possibly other symptoms like body ache, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
As fears grew, some wondered if this was another Covid. Hospitalization has not been very common, with only about 10% of cases reported to be hospitalised. Lockdowns and the extensive use of masks for extended periods of time aids in the control of more virulent versions of the virus, but also prevents good exposure to regular seasonal respiratory viruses according to experts.
H3N2 outbreaks can “in fact cause death” and are more severe than the common flu. The occurrence is two to three times higher than usual for this time of year. This virus is classified as an influenza subtype.
Though the Covid pandemic appears to be over, a wave of respiratory illnesses among adults continues, with a significant number infected with influenza viruses such as H3N2, adenovirus, and H1N1.
According to the most recent data available on the Integrated Health Information Platform, states reported a total of around 4000 laboratory confirmed cases of various subtypes of influenza.
Therefore, the Union Health Ministry has to monitor the seasonal influenza situation in various states/UTs in real time via the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme network. Flu surveillance is an essential component of public health, saying that disease monitoring is critical to addressing the situation.
(The author is an activist and hails from Raichur, Karnataka)