H3N2 claims 6 lives in India; case decline expected soon
At least six persons have died due to the Influenza A virus subtype H3N2 in India so far, India Today reported. The deaths were reported in three states: Punjab, Haryana, and Karnataka. However, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry confirmed only two deaths. Meanwhile, officials said they were monitoring the situation and added that cases were expected to decline from the March end.
Why does this story matter?
Latest victim belongs to Karnataka's Hassan district
Reportedly, the latest H3N2 death was registered in Karnataka's Hassan district. According to the state health authorities, the victim, an 82-year-old, had a fever, sore throat, and cough along with co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension. He was brought to the hospital on February 24 and died on March 1, they stated. The remaining deaths have been recorded in Punjab and Haryana, per India Today.
India records 451 H3N2 case in 2 months
According to the Union Health Ministry, 451 H3N2 cases were reported in the country between January 2 and March 5. The ministry has reportedly been keeping a close watch on the situation, while influenza infections are expected to decline from March end. It has, however, officially confirmed only two deaths, one each in Karnataka and Haryana, due to the H3N2 infection.
Experts advise caution, ask people not to panic
While concerns over H3N2 have mounted significantly, experts said a massive wave was unlikely. "Admission to hospital has not been very common...only about 5% of cases have been hospitalized," said Tarun Sahani, senior consultant, internal medicine, Apollo Hospitals. However, he advised taking precautions similar to those taken during COVID-19 times. Virologist Upasana Ray said using masks can prevent exposure to regular seasonal respiratory viruses.
H3N2 causes infection in people with low immunity
According to doctors, patients suffering from Influenza A virus subtype H3N2 mostly complained of sore throat, cough, body ache, and runny nose. They said as the virus mutates, the immunity against it gets reduced. H1N1, which caused a pandemic in India about a decade ago, and H3N2 are subtypes of Influenza A and are known to cause infection in people with low immunity.
How to prevent infection spread?
To avoid H3N2 infection, people should wash their hands often with soap. If someone in the house has a fever, cold, or cough, they should maintain distance. One should avoid touching their nose and mouth, cover their mouth while coughing and sneezing, and use masks in crowded areas. In case of an infection, people should only take medicines on the advice of a doctor.