Surge in H3N2, other flu-like cases at Delhi hospitals: Doctors

Surge in H3N2, other flu-like cases at Delhi hospitals: Doctors

More and more patients are coming to Delhi hospitals with H3N2 virus symptoms such as fever, cold, and body ache, doctors have said. In some cases, the virus is leaving behind a persistent cough that is making the patients extremely weak, they added.

A doctor said there has been a nearly 150 per cent rise in the number of patients coming to OPDs with complaints of influenza-like illnesses (ILIs).

Dr Viny Kantroo, consultant at the Respiratory, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine department, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said the outbreak may have been triggered by seasonal change, mutation of the virus, and fact that the economy is fully open.

Also read: H3N2 virus deaths in Karnataka, Haryana: What experts say about the situation

“Children are going to school, and they are transmitting it to the elderly. A lot of cross-country travel is happening. In the last two years, Covid was the dominant virus and there were restrictions, but with relaxation of norms and return of normalcy, these outbreaks are being observed,” she said.

When hospitalisation is needed

Delhi government’s LNJP Hospital has set up a 20-bed isolation ward in the emergency block for such patients. A senior doctor said they have done so and stocked up medicines following ICMR guidelines. “A 15-doctor team has been constituted to monitor the patients,” the doctor added.

Dr Rajiva Gupta, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram and Delhi, said ILI cases have surged in the last few days.

“If we were seeing two to three patients in OPDs last month, this month, there has been a one-and-a-half-time rise. The symptoms are fever, discomfort, cold, body aches. In some cases, patients are also complaining about abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, and fullness in the ears,” he added.

Also read: Amid rising H3N2 flu, COVID-19 cases, Centre urges states to boost watch

The senior doctor said the treatment approach changes lightly when the patient has comorbidities, and stressed that in those cases, they ask the family members to monitor the blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen saturation levels, and consciousness levels.

“If these levels fluctuate, the patient needs hospitalisation,” he stressed.

Persistent cough

Explaining about the current strain, Dr Vikas Deswal, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Medanta, Gurugram, said the influenza virus is the most prevalent virus that affects our respiratory system, and is present in three different types: A, B, and C.

“Among these, subtype A is most common. One subtype of the influenza A virus is H3N2, which produces symptoms like other flu viruses, such as cough, fever, cold, sore throat, fatigue, muscle pain, and respiratory complications, especially in children under two years, the elderly, and those with other medical conditions,” he said.

Both doctors said that in some cases, patients have been observed to have a persistent cough even after the fever subsided. “One of my patients said he had persistent cough and could not attend meetings because of it. Patients also develop extreme weakness due to it,” said Gupta.

Also read: Single-day rise of 524 Covid cases in India amid spike in influenza cases; Centre writes to states

Precautions to take

Deswal cautioned against letting down guard at this time and said since viruses mutate over time, it is important to take precautions. “Antibiotics are not effective in treating viral infections such as H3N2 and can be harmful; so, people should avoid taking them, especially if they have H3N2.”

He added that the virus “spreads through droplets and direct contact; so, it is recommended to follow precautions such as avoid touching surfaces, wash hands, follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, practise social distancing, wear masks, and avoid going out if experiencing viral symptoms.”

It is also important for people to get vaccinated against influenza every year, he said.

(With agency inputs)

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