What type of virus is H3N2?

It is an influenza A virus. There are 4 types of Influenza viruses. A, B, C, and D. In type A you have H1N1 and H3N2 virus infections. The number 113 is derived from hemagglutination and N is a neuraminidase. The virus is named after these two proteins that undergo periodic changes known as mutations.

What are the main symptoms of H3NZ infection?

The symptoms are generally associated with high-grade fever that may go up to 103104°E. In addition to this, there could be soreness of the throat, body ache, head-ache, cough which then becomes chronic for a long time, and also in some patients loose stools.

How does H3N2 infection differ from Covid infection?

In Covid infection, the fever range is not as high as in H3N2 infection. In Covid, there is a significant amount of breathlessness and a drop in oxygen saturation in the early part of the illness in those affected severely by the virus. However, in both conditions, the common symptoms are soreness of the throat, running nose, cough, headache, and body aches. If you have taken the COVID-19 vaccine and the booster as well as, there is nothing to worry about Covid infection.

Which population is known to suffer severely from H3N2 infection?

Young children below the age of 15 and adults above the age of 60 are likely to suffer severely from H3N2 infection. In addition to these individuals with poor immunity like in diabetes, other comorbidities like chronic renal failure, chronic hepatic failure, and heart diseases, and those on immunosuppressant therapy are likely to have a severe form of illness. Pregnant women are also likely to have a severe course of illness.

What about those with underlying lung disorders?

An individual suffering from bronchial asthma or COPD or interstitial lung disease is likely to be affected more severely by H3N2 Most of these individuals will have significant breathlessness and fever and dry cough and drop in oxygen saturation which may not respond very easily to bronchodilators and steroids. H3N2 is a viral infection that does not require antibiotics. It spreads from animals like pigs and birds to human beings and also in reverse order. The virus belongs to the influenza class and is contagious by droplets spread during coughing and sneezing.

How do you diagnose H3N2 virus infection?

This is generally done by having a throat swab of the suspected individual and this is subjected to some viral markers test that includes viruses under influenza A and influenza B categories. Blood tests are not easily available. In addition in individuals with respiratory symptoms, an x-ray of the chest or CT scan of the chest may be required to assess any progressive lung damage. Thankfully, the lung damage in H3N2 is significantly less than in those with Covid virus infection.

What is the commonest symptom of H3N2 virus infection?

In the general population, we are witnessing individuals with chronic unrelenting dry coughs. These individuals were not have underlying comorbidities. The cough is generally a dry hacking type. This is present throughout the day and night and comes periodically. This particular cough does not get controlled with routine cough syrups and lozenges however, this is a self-limiting cough and takes about 20 to 30 days for improvement.

How can we prevent H3N2 infection?

This infection can be controlled by precautions like using a face mask at all times, frequent washing of hands to prevent spread from fingertips to the nose and mouth, and avoiding crowded areas as far as possible. As the infection is known to spread by droplet method it is desirable that you keep your distance from any individual who coughs repeatedly.

What is the treatment for H3N2 infection and is it very dangerous?

This virus infection has not been proven to be amenable to cure by the currently available anti-viral drugs. There is no role for antibiotics like Azithromycin, Amoxy clay, Ciprofloxacin, or Levofloxacin. The treatment is entirely symptomatic as the disease is self-limiting and includes paracetamol, rest, plenty of fluids, and if possible isolation of the individual.

Can an individual infected with H3N2 die?

In India, about 10 individuals have died due to 1-13N2 infection so far. The death rate has been low as compared to Covid, but still, we need to be very cautious as new mutations can be dangerous. However, the cough that remains for 20 to 30 days following infection by the H3N2 virus puts everybody at great inconvenience, as every bout of cough can affect others.

Do anti-flu vaccinations prevent H3N2 virus infection?

It is wiser to take anti-flu shots and usually in individuals who are known to have low immune status as it can prevent many of the influenza A and B viral infections. Every year the format or composition of the vaccine changes which corroborates the viral strain present during that phase of the year. Hence, annual vaccination is desired to prevent infections be-longing to influenza virus family H3N2 infection is spreading its tentacles all over India. Corona’s appropriate behavior is known to reduce the spread of this infection.

Categories : Viruses

Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.

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