The death toll due to Influenza A Virus Subtype H3N2 in India climbed to 3 when a 58-year-old woman who was already getting treated in SSG Hospital in Vadodara due to her hypertension died.
Influenza A virus subtype H3N2 is a strain of the Influenza A virus that was first identified in 1968. It is one of the top three influenza viruses that cause serious outbreaks and pandemics, along with Influenza B and Influenza C. This virus spreads easily among humans and can cause a wide range of symptoms, such as mild fever, severe coughing, congestion, muscle aches and headaches.
H3N2 viruses are highly contagious and spread mainly through contact with respiratory fluid or mucus from an infected person when they sneeze or cough. People who are in close contact with an infected person will have a greater chance of contracting the virus. T his virus can potentially cause serious health complications in vulnerable individuals, i.e. those living with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes or those with a compromised immune system due to age or illness.
The majority of people affected by H3N2 are living in Asia, with China and India having some of the highest infection rates in the world. Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat, headache, body aches, fatigue and nausea. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia and other complications that can be life-threatening.
Origin and Spread
H3N2 is an orthomyxovirus that can cause illnesses in humans, birds and other animals. The origin of this virus can be traced back to birds and pigs. H3N2 is believed to have originated from the avian flu virus that was found in Chinese waterfowl in 1959 and was probably transferred to pigs and then humans. The virus mutates over time, making it difficult for the human body to recognize and respond quickly with antibodies.
Since its initial emergence, the virus has spread rapidly through close contact with infected people or objects contaminated by the virus. It is typically seen as a seasonal winter illness in India, where it is responsible for causing epidemics of respiratory illness in humans. In recent years, however, it has been seen as a year-round illness due to frequent mutations.
What Age Group is more vulnerable?
H3N2 affects people of all ages, but certain age groups are particularly vulnerable. Children under 5 and adults over the age of 65 are especially likely to contract the virus and suffer severe symptoms.
The elderly, in particular, have an increased risk of hospitalization due to complications from H3N2. In India, where Influenza is common during winter months, a survey conducted in 2017 revealed that over 56% of people hospitalized for Influenza were 65 or older. It also found that those with underlying medical conditions had a greater chance of hospitalization than those without pre-existing conditions.
The symptoms can vary from person to person, but there are some general signs that have been reported among the Indian population.
- Runny Nose
- Body Aches and Fatigue
- Sore Throat
- Vomiting and Diarrhoea (in rare cases)
In some cases, people may experience more severe symptoms, such as difficulty in breathing and chest pain. It is important to seek medical advice when facing any of these symptoms as soon as possible.
The best way to protect yourself from H3N2 is to get vaccinated. Flu vaccines are available each year and are most effective in helping you avoid the virus if taken soon after it emerges in the community. It is important to note that the vaccine will not protect against all strains of the virus, so it is important to get vaccinated as soon as possible after the flu season begins.
Practice Good Hygiene
Good hygiene practices are essential for preventing the spread of any illness, including H3N2. People should wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Additionally, they should cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoid touching their face with unwashed hands, wear a face mask when in public, and regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs and countertops.
Avoid Close Contact with Ill Individuals
It is also important for people to avoid close contact with anyone who may be infected with H3N2 or any other flu virus strain. This includes avoiding close contact with family members who may be ill, avoiding large gatherings such as concerts or sporting events where there could be a higher risk of exposure, and avoiding travel to countries where there may be an increased risk of infection.
World Health Organization and Integrated Disease Surveillance Program of the National Centre for Disease Control.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP) of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have been monitoring the spread of Influenza A Virus Subtype H3N2 in India. WHO has collaborated with the government to ensure that information about the virus is widely shared and disseminated. IDSP also implements a wide range of programs to prevent, diagnose, and treat H3N2. These include free flu drugs, awareness campaigns, and surveillance activities to track cases in different parts of India. In addition, they provide laboratory tests to detect any instances of infection in the country. They also work on developing vaccines against the virus and providing medical advice to those infected. All these measures are established and implemented to protect citizens from the Virus in India.
This virus has recently become a major cause of concern around the world due to its highly contagious nature, its ability to quickly spread through any population, and the fact that it has resulted in a higher mortality rate than other forms of Influenza.
H3N2 can also contribute to or exacerbate existing chronic diseases like diabetes or heart failure. Therefore, it is important for Indians to know how this virus works and take proactive measures to protect themselves from infection.
For Hindi Readers:- भारत में इन्फ्लुएंजा ए वायरस सबटाइप H3N2 का प्रभाव: लक्षण, रोकथाम और उपचार