The Union Health Ministry is keeping a close watch on the seasonal influenza situation in various states and union territories through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network on a real-time basis, it said in an official brief today, adding that the cases are expected to decline by March-end.
The Ministry said it is also tracking and keeping a close watch on morbidity and mortality due to the H3N2 subtype of the seasonal influenza. “Young children and old age persons with co-morbidities are the most vulnerable groups in the context of seasonal influenza. So far, Karnataka and Haryana have confirmed one death each from H3N2 influenza,” a press release from the health ministry said.
An 82-year-old man in Karnataka’s Hassan is believed to be the first to die of H3N2 in the country. Hire Gowda was admitted to hospital on February 24 and died on March 1, according to officials. He was reportedly a diabetic and suffered from hypertension.
Around 90 cases of the H3N2 virus have been reported in the country. Eight cases of the H1N1 virus have also been detected.
Cases of flu have been rising in the country over the past few months. Most of the infections are caused by the H3N2 virus, also known as the “Hong Kong flu”. This virus causes more hospitalisations than other influenza subtypes in the country.
Only H3N2 and H1N1 infections have been detected in India so far.
“Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses which circulate in all parts of the world, and the cases are seen to increase during certain months globally. India every year witnesses two peaks of seasonal influenza: one from Jan to March and other in post monsoon season. The cases arising from seasonal influenza are expected to decline from March end. State surveillance officers are therefore fully geared to meet this public health challenge,” the ministry informed.
The health ministry has provided guidelines on categorization of patients, treatment protocol, and guidelines on ventilatory management to the States/UTs which are also available on the website of the Ministry and NCDC. It has also advised the state governments for vaccination of health care workers dealing with H1N1 cases.
ICMR has also issued an advisory regarding this.
Both H3N2 and H1N1 have symptoms similar to Covid, which infected millions across the world and caused 6.8 million deaths. After two years of the pandemic, the rising flu cases have triggered concern among people.
The symptoms include persistent cough, fever, chills, breathlessness and wheezing. Patients have also reported nausea, sore throat, body-ache and diarrhoea. These symptoms can persist for about a week.
According to experts, the virus is highly contagious and spreads through coughing, sneezing and close contact with an infected person.
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