The former top doctor of AIIMS, Dr Randeep Guleria, said the influenza virus spreads like Covid through droplets. He also advised elderly people, especially those having co-morbidities, to take precautions.
There has been a sudden outbreak of Influenza A subtype H3N2 cases across country which has sparked concerns. Hospitals across the country have been reporting thousands of Influenza A subtype H3N2 cases over the past few months. It causes fever for 3-5 days and a persistent cough that can last up to three weeks.
Medical experts have been suggesting guidelines and precautions to tackle this outbreak. The former top doctor of AIIMS and now Chairman, Institute of Internal Medicine, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Director-Medical Education, Medanta Dr Randeep Guleria said, “H3N2 is a type of influenza virus, which we see every year during this time of the year. But it is a virus which mutates over time called antigenic drift. We had a pandemic many years ago because of H1N1. The circulating strain of that virus is now H3N2 and, therefore, it is a normal influenza strain.”
Dr Guleria said that this influenza virus spreads the same as COVID, through droplets.
“Only those who have associated comorbidities need to be careful. For precaution, wear a mask, wash hands frequently, have physical distancing. For influenza also, there is a vaccine for high-risk groups and the elderly. Its symptoms are fever, sore throat, cough, body aches and cold, “Dr Guleria said.
Delhi NCR clinics are flooded with such cases and almost every second patient is reportedly having symptoms of this influenza. The tele government has advised all its fever clinics to be prepared to deal with this virus and maintain medicine supply and cough syrups.
Dr Shalin Mitra, advisor to the health department in the tele government said, “We have advised our clinics to be prepared and ensure adequate supply of medicines to our fever clinics and follow the ICMR guidelines. We have advised all our fever clinics to not provide antibiotics at the moment as that can kill good bacteria in the body.
The ICMR recently issued an advisory asking people to avoid self-medication and use of antibiotics in this influenza outbreak.
Dr Vishal Gupta, Fortis , Internal Medicine, said, “This influenza is also spreading because of the pollution aggregating factors and mostly people not wearing masks.
Speaking to India Today, Dr Gupta suggested people must maintain their immunity and wear masks in crowded places. Besides keeping themselves hydrated, they must avoid use of cold water, ice-cream, cold drinks or oily food, he added.
Dr Gaurav Sharma, who is a child expert in Delhi who treats around 30 to 40 patients everyday, said most of the patients that came to his clinic complained of coughs, fever and similar prolonged symptoms. He suggested nebulization for children.
“If children are getting affected, I advise the use of cough syrups or nebulization along with maintaining hygiene,” Dr Gaurav Sharma said.
Pediatrician Dr Meghna Panchal, who runs a clinic in Noida, said, “Nowadays most of the patients coming to my clinic have influenza symptoms. If we ask people to get tested for virus or influenza, there will be a sense of panic. We advise them to follow proper medication and maintain food hygiene.”
“If children complain of symptoms, parents are advised not to send them to schools to prevent the spread of infection. They must also avoid visiting crowded places,” she said. Dr Meghna also suggested good homemade food to prevent throat infection.