H3N2 Influenza primary cause of respiratory illnesses in Hyderabad

H3N2 Influenza shows symptoms cough, cold, and fever lasting for over a week.

By Nikisha Uddagiri  Published on  7 March 2023 3:52 AM GMT
Influenza virus

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Hyderabad: In the last few days, a significant increase in respiratory illnesses has been reported, with many people showing symptoms of cough, cold, and fever lasting for over a week. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has identified influenza A subtype H3N2 as the primary cause of this surge in respiratory illnesses.

According to the latest surveillance data, H3N2 is responsible for almost 50% of all inpatient diagnoses of severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and outpatient diagnoses of influenza-like diseases. ICMR/DHR has developed pan-respiratory virus surveillance throughout 30 VRDLs, and the data from 15 December until the present show an increase in influenza A H3N2 cases. ICMR has also noted that H3N2 appears to result in a higher number of hospitalisations than other influenza subtypes.

In a statement highlighting the clinical characteristics of influenza A H3N2, ICMR revealed that about 92% of the hospitalised SARI patients with influenza A H3N2 have fever, 86% have cough, 27% have dyspnea, 16% have wheezing, 16% also showed clinical symptoms of pneumonia, and 6% have seizures. Moreover, 10% of SARI patients with H3N2 required oxygen and 7% required ICU care.

Navoday Gilla, a consultant physician at Care Hospital Banjara Hills, said, “The reason for its recurrence is due to the virus mutating, making it difficult for existing immunity to fight off the new strains. Therefore, if a person’s immunity is low, they can get repeated infections, as the virus can easily infect them.”

ICMR has advised the public to take precautionary measures against the spread of the virus.


· Wash your hands frequently.

· Wear a mask when in public.


· Spit in public.

· Take antibiotics or other medications without consulting a doctor.

· Eat with others while seated close to them.

· Shake hands or use other forms of contact greetings.

At-risk patients should be cautious

Patients with uncomplicated seasonal influenza should be managed with symptomatic treatment and are advised to stay home if symptomatic to minimise the risk of infecting others in the community. Patients in a high-risk group for developing severe or complicated illnesses should be treated with antivirals in addition to symptomatic treatment as soon as possible.

A senior doctor from Government Hospital, Kiran Madhala, advised, “Patients should monitor themselves to detect if their condition deteriorates and seek medical attention. Patients that are known to be in a group at high risk for developing severe or complicated illnesses should be treated with antivirals in addition to symptomatic treatment as soon as possible.”

People with underlying health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, elderly individuals, and young children are at higher risk and should take extra precautions to prevent infection. Avoiding exposure to pigs and birds is also recommended.

ICMR urged the public to be mindful of their actions and take necessary precautions to avoid the spread of the virus. “It’s important to note that antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections. Hence, taking antibiotics for a viral infection like H3N2 is not safe or effective. Instead, it’s better to take preventive measures such as having warm water, wearing masks, avoiding public gatherings, and maintaining hygiene,” added Navoday Gilla.

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