H3N2 virus is a type of influenza A virus that can cause seasonal flu in humans. This virus is notorious because it can rapidly mutate, which makes it challenging to develop effective vaccines.
What is H3N2 Virus?
In 1968, the H3N2 virus was first identified. It has been responsible for several pandemics since then. Symptoms of H3N2 infection are quite like other kinds of flu and can include fatigue, sore throat, cough, fever, and body aches.
While most people recover from H3N2 flu without complications, for young children, the elderly, and people who have weak immune systems, it can be particularly dangerous.
H3N2 Virus Full Form
H3N2 is a type of influenza A virus that causes respiratory illness in humans. The virus is named based on the proteins on its surface, hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N), which are responsible for its ability to infest and spread between cells.
H3N2 is one of the subtypes of the influenza A virus that circulates seasonally and can cause annual flu epidemics. It is important to stay informed about the latest developments and recommendations for preventing and treating H3N2 infections, especially during flu season.
H3N2 Flu or Influenza
First identified in 1968 in Hong Kong, during a global pandemic known as the “Hong Kong flu”, H3N2 flu is a seasonal flu in humans.
This RNA virus is capable of mutating and changing its genetic makeup rapidly. Because of the nature of the virus, it becomes difficult for our immune system to identify and fight off it.
The symptoms of H3N2 flu or influenza are like those of other types of flu, including sore throat, cough, fever, fatigue, and body aches.
In severe cases, this flu can turn to pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death, especially in people with weak immune systems, young children, and elderly people.
H3N2 flu or influenza is transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets or sneezes. It can also spread by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching one’s eyes, nose, or mouth.
Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a new vaccine for seasonal flu based on the most common strains circulating in that season.
However, due to the high rate of mutation of H3N2, the effectiveness of the vaccine varies widely, and some people still get infected despite getting vaccinated.
To prevent the spread of H3N2 flu, it is essential to practice good hygiene, such as covering the nose and mouth especially while sneezing or coughing, washing hands frequently, and avoiding close contact with people who are already infected.
If you have already caught the flu, make sure to stay at home and prevent the spread of the virus. When severe symptoms of the flu are observed, medical attention needs to be sought.
The common H3N2 symptoms are like other types of influenza and can include chills, headache, sore throat, cough, fever, fatigue, runny and stuffy and headache.
Occasionally, people may also experience vomiting and diarrhoea. However, these symptoms are more prevalent in children than in adults.
H3N2 can be severe in young children and older adults and easily lead to health complications like pneumonia.
Worsening underlying medical conditions are also reported in people with H3N2. Therefore, if you develop H3N2 symptoms, it is advisable to see a doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.
H3N2 Cases in India
H3N2 cases have been reported in different parts of the world, including India. It has been a cause of worry for public health officials in India as H3N2 cases have been on a rise in the country in the recent past.
In India, like in many other countries, H3N2 has been spreading from person to person through droplets generated when the person infected with the condition sneezes or coughs.
The general symptoms include body aches, fatigue, and fever. When left untreated or ignored, H3N2 can cause medical complications or even death.
According to different sources, two lives have been lost in India due to H3N2 flu – a 56-year-old patient suffering from cancer in Haryana and a diabetic patient aged 82 in Karnataka.
According to the data shared by the Indian health ministry, 451 H3N2 cases have been confirmed in the country between January 2 and March 5 in 2023.
The Union Government has issued advisories requesting the states to take charge of the situation on the ground and equip the hospitals with medical oxygen and necessary drugs to combat the medical emergency.
The states have also been urged to check on the vaccination coverage against influenza and COVID-19.
Puducherry alone reported 79 cases of H3N2 recently. However, no deaths have been reported. Special booths have been established in many hospitals across India to help the patients with H3N2 symptoms.
To monitor the progress of H3N2 cases in the country, the Union Government has developed an Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP). This network can be used to monitor the progress of H3N2 on a real-time basis.
The treatment options for H3N2 are like those that are available for other types of influenza. There are different varieties of medications available in the market that help in alleviating the severity of illness.
These medications work by inhibiting the replication of the influenza virus. The two commonly used medications used for treating H3N2 are zanamivir (Relenza) and oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
To get maximum benefits from these medications, you need to take them within 48 hours of the onset of H3N2 symptoms. Therefore, people need to seek medical help if they suspect H3N2.
Supportive care can also be used along with antiviral medications for managing the symptoms of H3N2. This includes taking over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain and fever, staying hydrated, and getting lots of rest.
Occasionally, antibiotics are prescribed by doctors for treating secondary bacterial infections that arise as a result of the flu.
It is better to adopt preventive measures to avoid contracting H3N2. The influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of six months as it helps prevent the flu or reduce the severity of symptoms in case you get sick.
However one of the most important factors regarding your health is your better immune system. The more and better your immune system will keep you free from such bacteria and viruses. You can keep your immune system better and better with some simple daily efforts.
It is now profoundly evident that daily practicing 15-20 minutes of yoga can boost your immune system to a higher level. Regular practicing of yoga can make your physical, mental, and psychological levels balance to keep your immunity intact.
A regular intake of vitamin C in any form could boost your immune system to an optimal level. You can include several food items like lemon, citrus fruits, etc. which is easily available in the kitchen and have a magical power to boost your immunity.
It has been also been established as a standard fact that walking 20 minutes a day not only can keep you fit and healthy but also can boost your immune system to fight several diseases. Walking 20 minutes or 5000 steps a day is enough to make you a healthy and disease-free life.
Green tea is one of the best sources of antioxidants and essential components for a better immune system. One to two cups of green tea on a daily basis is enough to keep you healthy. You can replace milk tea or milk coffee by adding green tea to your life styles.