ICMR reports H3N2 virus linked to spate of high fever and cough cases

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ICMR reports H3N2 virus linked to spate of high fever and cough cases (Image: pixabay.com)
ICMR reports H3N2 virus linked to spate of high fever and cough cases (Image: pixabay.com)

Delhi : Influenza is to blame for the recent spike in high fever and coughing across the nation. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has identified the influenza (flu) virus subtype as H3N2. The leading health research organisation claims that H3N2 causes more hospitalisations than other influenza subtypes.

Via its network of Virus Research and Diagnostic Labs (VRDLs) spread out over the nation, the ICMR keeps a constant eye out for illnesses brought on by respiratory viruses.

The chief of epidemiology at ICMR, Dr. Nivedita Gupta, told TOI that surveillance data from 30 VRDLS from December 15 to the present revealed an increase in the number of influenza A H3N2 patients. According to her, influenza A H3N2 was discovered in around half of all inpatient severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and outpatient influenza-like illnesses.

Dr. Gupta predicted that once the temperature rises around the end of March or the first week of April, the wave of diseases brought on by the viral subtype will likely abate.

Among hospitalised H3N2 patients, the ICMR observed that 92% of patients had fever, 86% had a cough, 27% had dyspnea, and 16% had wheezing. In addition, the ICMR surveillance revealed that 6% of these individuals experienced seizures and 16% of them developed pneumonia.

Internal medicine director of Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Dr. Satish Koul, stated that H3N2 is recognised for producing more severe symptoms than other influenza viruses. "Yet, this is not a novel variety. It has been in use for many years. In fact, a significant outbreak of influenza subtype H3N2 occurred in Hong Kong in 1968, according to Dr. Koul.

"H3N2 infections are notably different from the usual influenza in a way that the clinical course of the illness is substantially more severe," he said. Every time, a high-grade fever and chills are the first symptoms, along with persistent coughing.

Internal medicine specialist Dr. Rommel Tickoo reported that during the past two months, the internal medicine clinic at Max Saket has been overrun with patients who have fever illnesses and coughs. "A large number of people need to be hospitalised, which is rare for symptoms brought on by seasonal flu. The elderly and those with co-morbidities are especially impacted, he continued.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that seasonal influenza causes between 3 and 5 million severe disease cases and between 2.9 lakh and 6.5 lakh respiratory deaths worldwide each year.

The UN health organisation claims that vaccination is the best method of illness prevention. "Aside from immunisation and antiviral therapy, the public health management includes personal protective measures like routine hand washing with proper drying of hands, good respiratory hygiene — covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, using tissues and disposing of them properly, early self-isolation of those feeling unwell, feverish, and having other influenza symptoms, and avoiding close contact with sick people among others," it adds.