Monday, March 4, 2024

ICMR tips on H3N2 virus: Here’s how you can save yourself & stay safe


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Shillong, March 5: A  lingering symptom, named by experts of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as H3N2,  is causing uneasiness to a large number of people and keeping health experts on tenterhooks amid fears of Covid-19 resurgence.

It has become a source of the major cause of current respiratory illness in the country.

The symptoms are a consistent cough and fever which is gripping the North, South, West and Eastern part of India for the past two-three months.

According to ICMR scientists, the H3N2, which has been spreading fast, has caused more hospitalisations than other subtypes.

They are on a constant vigil over ailments caused by respiratory viruses through the Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories network.

To allay fears, they have given a list of Dos and Don’ts for people to follow as modes of protection. “The current respiratory illness is caused by influenza A subtype H3N2,” the ICMR said.

The ICMR-DHR (Department of Health Research) is working on a war footing and setting up pan-respiratory virus surveillance across 30 VRLDs (Viral research and diagnostic laboratories).

According to estimates, about 50 % of inpatients admitted are suffering from severe acute respiratory infections (SARI). The outpatients are showing up symptoms of influenza-like illness. The ICMR said patients are largely suffering from influenza A H3N2.

“There is more hospitalisation than other influenza subtypes. Of the total  SARI patients who are being treated for influenza A H3N2, about 92 per cent are down  with fever, 86 per cent with cough, 27 per cent with breathlessness, 16 per cent with wheezing. Additionally, 16 per cent had clinical signs of pneumonia and 6 per cent had seizures,” ICMR said.

Besides, 10 per cent of SARI patients who have H3N2 are being given oxygen and another 7 per cent needed ICU care.

“A sudden rise in patients with symptoms like cough, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, fever, body ache and diarrhoea in some cases are keeping us worried. We have seen fever subsiding after three days, but cough remains persist for three weeks,” an Indian Medical Association (IMA) expert said.

He said the symptoms are evident among people over the age of 50 and below 15.

Many patients are complaining about upper respiratory infections along with fever, which has sometimes been spurred by air pollution.

The medical body asked doctors to go for only symptomatic treatment as there is no need for antibiotics.

At present, Athreycin and Amoxiclav are being used by people without caring for dose and frequency and they stop once they start feeling better. The ICMR wants the practice to be stopped as “it leads to antibiotic resistance.”

Some prescribed measures are avoiding crowded places, practicing good hand and respiratory hygiene practices as well as flu vaccination, an ICMR expert said.


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