Noting an increase in cases of the H3N2 virus, which has become a source of concern, Dr. Randeep Guleria, Chairman of the Institute of Internal Medicine, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, and Director of Medical Education, stated that this virus mutates every year during this time and spreads through droplets.
“So, currently we are seeing an increase in the number of cases of influenza, which is basically presenting fever, sore throat cough, body aches and runny nose history and is a type of influenza virus, which we see every year during this time of the year. But it is a virus with changes over time, it mutates over time and what we call an antigenic drift,” said Randeep Guleria. “We had a pandemic many years ago of H1N1. That circulating strain of that virus is now H3N2 and therefore it is a normal influenza strain. But we are seeing more cases because as the virus mutates a little bit, the immunity that we had against the virus becomes a little less and therefore people who are susceptible tend to get infection more easily,” Dr Guleria explained.
“It spreads through droplets. However, I think there is not that much of a cause of concern because although the number of cases increased hospitalisation has not gone up to a very large extent,” he said.
Dr Guleria also said that this virus changes slightly every year, so the virus which is H3N2, comes from the family of influenza viruses and influenza viruses, based upon its various subtypes, and it mutates or it goes changes slightly every year what is known as antigenic drift.
“We also see that during this time of the year when the weather changes, there is a higher chance of getting influenza and also because of the fact that we have now come back to a non-COVID state where we are not wearing masks, we’re having a lot of crowding. This is also allowing the virus to spread more easily. And therefore if we need to really prevent yourselves from getting influenza. We need to wear a mask if we’re going to crowded places. We also need to wash our hands frequently and also have physical distancing, if we are a more susceptible population, for influenza also there is a vaccine for the high-risk group and the elderly,” he said
“So in the festive season and we are only just around the corner. I would really say that people should celebrate Holi but they should be careful especially the elderly and those who have underlying comorbid conditions like chronic respiratory diseases, heart problems, patients have kidney problems or dialysis, they need to be careful about going into a crowded place and getting exposure,” Dr Guleria said alerting the elderly and people with comorbidities.