Influenza Sub-type H3N2
Influenza H3N2, a subtype of the influenza A virus, is causing a surge in hospitalizations across India due to respiratory illness. The virus is responsible for at least 92 percent of all severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and outpatient influenza-like illnesses, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Symptoms and Impact of H3N2
The symptoms of H3N2 include fever, cough, breathlessness, wheezing, and clinical signs of pneumonia. This strain of influenza has been causing more hospitalizations than other influenza subtypes, and it is more severe in individuals who have underlying health conditions such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, or weakened immune systems.
H3N2 and the 1968 Pandemic
This virus was responsible for causing the 1968 pandemic that resulted in deaths of over a million people. This flu pandemic is known as the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968. It originated in China in July of that year and spread to other parts of the world. While the H3N2 virus has been circulating for decades, it can cause severe illness, particularly in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, young children, and those with underlying health conditions.
Measures taken by the Indian Government
To control the spread of the virus, the Indian government has issued advisories to the states to strengthen their surveillance systems for SARI and influenza-like illnesses. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also recommended the use of antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir and zanamivir, and emphasized the importance of vaccination for vulnerable populations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends annual vaccination against influenza for people at high risk of complications, such as the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and people with underlying health conditions. In India, the government has launched a nationwide vaccination campaign for healthcare workers and frontline workers to protect them from the virus.
Importance of Hygiene and Social Distancing
Apart from vaccination, hygiene and social distancing measures can also help prevent the spread of the virus. Washing hands frequently with soap and water, covering the nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing, and avoiding close contact with sick people can help reduce the risk of infection.
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