H3N2 Virus: Just as we were heaving a sigh of relief with the low number of COVID cases over the last few months, the emergence of infection due to the H3N2 virus has triggered a new wave of anxiety in the country. Infection caused by the H3N2 virus or influenza A virus causes high fever, shortness of breath, fatigue and dry cough. Experts say that the symptoms remain in the body for 3 weeks. It is impossible to remain calm with the flu virus spreading across the country. There are many questions on people's symptoms, severity and whether the COVID vaccine taken in 2-3 doses is effective in protecting against the flu.
Can Covid shots protect against the flu?
No, it will not, as the two viruses are very different, as the virus causing COVID infection is completely different from H3N2, the vaccines will be different and the COVID vaccine will not help protect against influenza. There are other vaccines, flu shots and influenza vaccines available that help strengthen the immune system to fight against the disease or virus. H3N2 is antigenic drift and a mild mutation, but not life-threatening. In India, seasonal influenza viral infection is seen more from January to March and second after the monsoon season. There are three types of influenza virus in India: Influenza A H1N1PDM09, Influenza A H3N2 and Influenza B Victoria, of which Influenza H3N2 is influenza.
Who is more at risk?
Children and the elderly are most at risk of the H3N2 virus because it attacks the person's immune system. In particular, children or the elderly with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and weakened systems are at increased risk of the H3N2 virus. Even pregnant women are at risk of exposure to the virus. There was no risk of influenza in children for 2 years due to Covid, due to which the risk of the H3N2 virus increased. Which has increased the number of cases in children due to influenza.
How does the H3N2 virus spread?
Being a contagious disease, the H3N2 influenza virus can spread from person to person through droplets from an infected person's cough or sneeze and through droplets that come in contact with a person's hands. Avoid crowded places and wear a mask when out. Wash your hands with soap and water especially before eating and after travelling. Use hand sanitiser in cases where you are unable to wash your hands. People are also advised to stay away from sick people.
Signs and symptoms that confirm it is the flu
Mild or not, it is important to confirm the infection and get it checked by a doctor as soon as possible. Common symptoms of H3N2 virus infection are fever or severe chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose or in some cases nasal congestion, headache and fatigue. Children and sometimes the elderly may also have vomiting and diarrhoea. Difficulty in breathing is also another first sign of H3N2 virus infection. Children are more likely to show signs of wheezing.
How to prevent flu?
Two years of dealing with COVID have taught us that wearing a mask and sanitizing hands before touching the mouth and eyes can reduce the chances of the virus entering the body. Now the time has come to deal with the seasonal influenza virus, so keep in mind the protocol we followed during COVID. Avoid contact with people who have the flu or show flu symptoms. If you feel sick or have symptoms, stay home unless it is absolutely necessary. When you are in a crowded place, cover your mouth and nose with a mask. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose with dirty hands.