H3N2, an influenza A subtype virus is the primary cause of the sudden spike in flu cases in India. It is a subtype of the influenza A virus that has previously caused outbreaks of a number of influenzas. Most people across the country have been affected by a persistent cough and sporadic fever for the last few months and it also increased hospitalization. The H3N2 subtype of influenza A is the most prevalent strain of the flu virus.
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Dive into this article to know what is H3N2v, its symptoms, severity, and treatment options.
What Is H3N2 Virus?
H3N2v is a non-human influenza virus that usually circulates in pigs and infects humans. Viruses that normally circulate in pigs are “swine influenza viruses” and when these viruses infect humans, they are called “variant “viruses.
Influenza A-type viruses are more virulent to public health due to their possibility to cause an influenza pandemic. Influenza type A viruses are further classified into subtypes as per the combinations of different virus surface protein hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Until now there are about 18 different strains of hemagglutinin subtypes and 11 different strains of neuraminidase subtypes have been identified. Based on the host source influenza A viruses can be grouped as avian influenza, swine influenza, or other types. Animal type A viruses are entirely different from human influenza viruses and do not easily transmit among humans.
Flu caused by H3N2 viruses outweighed during the 2017 and 2018 flu seasons. Normally, flu seasons that are dominated by H3N2 action are more severe, mainly among high-risk groups like older adults and younger children.
Symptoms of H3N2
The symptoms caused by the H3N2 virus are quite similar to symptoms caused by other seasonal influenza viruses. While symptoms usually develop suddenly and include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Body pains
Why Are Health Authorities Concerned About H3n2v?
Well, infections with influenza viruses including H3N2 variant viruses can sometimes lead to serious disease, even in healthy individuals, which include complications like pneumonia that need hospitalization and can be fatal.
The virus seems to spread more readily to humans from pigs than other forms of swine viruses. Also, influenza viruses are always changing, thus it’s possible that the H3N2 virus could modify and start spreading rapidly from person to person.
In addition, several studies conducted by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that children born after 2001 have poor immunity against H3N2 viruses, whereas adults seem to have enhanced immunity as they may have been previously exposed to similar viruses before.
Is H3N2v Very Severe?
Though the severity of human illness linked to H3N2 resembles that of seasonal flu now. It is important to note that even seasonal influenza can be dangerous, as it can lead to pneumonia and other complications.
Is A Vaccine Available For H3N2v?
Measures are being undertaken to make an effective vaccine against H3N2. A pilot H3N2 vaccine was made and initial studies showed that it leads to a remarkable immune response.
Will The Flu Vaccine Protect Against H3N2v?
No, the seasonal flu vaccine will not offer protection against H3N2v, seasonal flu vaccines shield against seasonal influenza viruses. The CDC recommends that children 6 months and older, and every individual should get a seasonal flu vaccine annually to safeguard against the flu.
What Is The Treatment For H3N2v?
The treatment remains the same, influenza antiviral drugs used to treat seasonal flu can also treat H3N2. Prompt medical care and treatment work best and are mainly vital for people with compromised immune systems and comorbid diseases. Also, it is important to take the medications as prescribed by your healthcare provider and complete the course of medication.
Who Is At Higher Risk?
Children below 5 years of age, elderly people above 65 years of age, pregnant women, and those with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, compromised immune systems and neurological conditions are at increased risk of getting infected with H3N2v influenza and developing complications.