The H3N2 Virus: Latest News, Symptoms and Prevention
H3N2 is an influenza A virus, one of the most common strains of influenza in humans. It is a subtype of the influenza A virus and is the predominant strain in seasonal influenza epidemics. H3N2 is responsible for the majority of the seasonal influenza-related illness and deaths in the world.
Recently, one person perished in Haryana, and another died in Karnataka. According to government authorities, 90 cases of the flu caused by this virus have been documented across the country. H3N2 has been linked to several influenza outbreaks in the country in the past. The change in temperature from extremely cold to warm affects the occurrence of flu symptoms among persons.
What are the Symptoms?
The highly contagious H3N2 influenza can be passed from person to person via droplets released by an infected individual while coughing, sneezing, or talking. It can also transmit if anybody touches their mouth or nose after coming into contact with a virus-infected surface. Flu-related problems are more likely in pregnant women, young kids, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions.
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According to the World Health Organization, avian, swine, and other zoonotic influenza infections in humans can cause anything from a moderate upper respiratory disease (fever and cough) to a rapid progression to severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, shock, and even death. The following are some of the most prevalent H3N2 virus symptoms:
- Throat pain/soreness
- A muscular and body discomfort
- Diarrhea can occur in some conditions
- Runny nose and sneezing
It is critical to contact a doctor if a person has difficulty breathing, pain or discomfort in the chest, a persistent fever, or pain in the throat while gulping down food.
Preventing any form of viral infection begins with getting vaccinated. Sanitize your environment by washing your hands with soap frequently. Use a mask or avoid contact with sick people. Cover your mouth if you are sneezing or coughing since the viral infection is contagious.
Since this virus targets the respiratory tract, it is critical to:
Continuously monitor the oxygen level with a pulse oximeter, a doctor’s visit is required if the oxygen saturation level is less than 95%. If the oxygen saturation level falls below 90%, critical care may be required.
In such instances, experts advise against self-medication.
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The Treatment Prescribed
The treatment for the H3N2 virus is simple; people should drink more water and stay hydrated. To ease the symptoms, regular over-the-counter drugs for fever, cough, or headaches can be taken. About this time, annual flu injections for the influenza virus should be delivered and taken.
According to the WHO, neuraminidase inhibitors should be provided as soon as feasible (preferably, within 48 hours of symptom onset) in suspected and confirmed cases to maximize treatment benefits.
Do’s and Don’t’s
It is recommended that you wash your hands with soap and water regularly. Avoid crowded places for a while and only if necessary while protecting yourself by wearing face masks. This would also make sure that you keep your hands away from your nose and mouth which would make it easier for you to be exposed to the virus.
However, especially in public, be mindful and cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing. We must stay hydrated and drink plenty of liquids. It is advised that taking paracetamol if you have a fever and a headache is acceptable.
What must be duly noted are a few things that one must avoid, such as:
Urinating in public places, greetings based on physical contacts, such as shaking hands
Self-medication and the use of antibiotics or other medications without first visiting a doctor or eating in crowded spaces while sitting next to others.
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The H3N2 virus first appeared in India in 1969 and has been a common cause of seasonal flu ever since. It continued to circulate until the early 2000s. In 2009, the H3N2 virus was responsible for a large outbreak in India, with over 17,000 cases of influenza reported in the country. Since then, the virus has continued to circulate and cause seasonal outbreaks each year.
In 2017, a new strain of the virus, H3N2v, was identified in India. This strain is similar to the regular H3N2 virus but has mutated to become more infectious. While the virus is not considered a major threat, it is important to be aware of the potential risks that it can pose. Hence, you may read more on the H3N2 virus to educate yourself and stay up to date.