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Influenza A subtype H3N2 is major cause of current respiratory illness in India: ICMR

New Delhi: Amid rising cases, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has called Influenza A subtype H3N2 as the major cause of rising respiratory illness in India.

According to the data given by ICMR, Pan respiratory virus surveillance has been established by ICMR/DHR across 30 VRDLs.

The surveillance data from December 15 to date reflects the rise in the number of cases of influenza A H3N2. About half of all inpatient severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and outpatient influenza-like illnesses were found to have influenced A H3N2.

Emphasising about the clinical features of Influenza A H3N2, ICMR has said that this subtype appears to cause more hospitalizations than other influenza subtypes.

“Out of the hospitalized SARI patients with influenza A H3N2, about 92 per cent are suffering from fever, 86 per cent from cough, 27 per cent from breathlessness, 16 per cent with wheezing, and additionally, 16 per cent had clinical signs of pneumonia and 6 per cent has seizures. Also, 10 per cent of SARI patients who have H3N2 needed oxygen, and 7 per cent required ICU care,” ICMR stated.

ICMR has also suggested people wash their hands regularly and avoid shaking hands and spitting in public.

“The Dos include washing hands with soap and water. If symptomatic, wear masks and avoid crowded places, cover mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing, take plenty of fluids, avoid touching eyes and nose, and take paracetamol for fever and body ache,” ICMR stated.

It further added, “The Don’ts include shaking hands or using other contact greetings, spitting in public, taking antibiotics or other medicines without consulting a doctor, eating together sitting close to others.”

Notably, was the first to report about the prevalence of H3N2 in January.

According to Dr Arjun Dang, CEO, Dr Dangs Lab, H3N2 Influenza cases are being reported more in comparison to H1N1.

He said, “In the past few weeks, we’ve gotten more than a few 100 tests out of which a lot of them are positive for H3N2. But it’s interesting to see that we are getting less H1N1 positive.”

Dr Sameer Bhati, Public Health Expert, and Director, Star imaging and path lab said, “We have observed an increase in Flu cases where H3N2 is found majorly after diagnosis. We do RT PCR for its confirmation where RNA is extracted from the samples and then it is amplified using RT PCR technology.”

“The results are interpreted on the basis of specific fluroscent dye for each Infuenza viruses like H1N1, H3N2, H5N1 and H7N9. Generally, when H3N2 dominates the flu cases, the cases are severe for people in At-Risk Groups like older adults & younger children while people with chronic medical issues have more chances of experiencing flu complications due to weak immune systems and may also require hospitalisation,” he further said. (ANI)

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