Across states in India, there has been a surge in H3N2 cases due to a sudden and significant change in weather conditions. The influenza virus, particularly the subtype H3N2, has seen a new spike in the country, adding to the emotional distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising hospitalizations and an increasing number of affected children cause widespread concern among parents. Respiratory symptoms, such as a persistent cough, are common symptoms of this virus. India may be on the cusp of yet another season of alarming infections.
What Is H3N2 Virus?
The H3N2 virus, commonly known as the flu, is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza A virus. It usually spreads through pigs and has reached humans through them. The most common circulating virus in pigs is called “swine influenza.” H3N2 is a highly contagious virus that can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, and fatigue.
Who Is The Most Vulnerable To The H3N2 Virus?
H3N2 influenza is highly contagious and can cause severe illness, particularly in children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. People have witnessed millions of illnesses, thousands of hospitalizations, and hundreds of deaths in India due to this virus. While most people who get the flu recover without complications, the virus can cause serious health problems, particularly in young children. Children are more susceptible to the H3N2 virus because their immune systems are not fully developed. H3N2 Virus symptoms in children are similar to those of the common cold, but they can be more severe as well. Fever, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue are some common symptoms; children may also experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Children who have chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease are at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu, which can lead to ear infections, pneumonia, dehydration, and respiratory failure.
Effects of H3N2 Virus
One of the significant effects of H3N2 virus on children is its impact on their education and mental health. Children who have the flu may miss several days of school, which can affect their academic performance. Moreover, the illness can be stressful for children and cause detrimental effects on their mental health, particularly if they have to miss school or other activities. They may feel isolated from their peers, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.
How to prevent H3N2 influenza virus infection?
Preventing the spread of the H3N2 virus is crucial to protecting children from the effects of the flu. If a child does get sick with the H3N2 virus, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. Antiviral medications can help reduce the severity of the illness and prevent complications. Taking proper rest, drinking plenty of water, juices, and soups, and staying at home makes them feel better.
Here are some effective ways to take care of children to prevent the H3N2 virus.
Encourage Vaccination: The most effective way to prevent the H3N2 virus is to get vaccinated against the flu. The flu vaccine is safe and effective, and it can significantly reduce the risk of getting sick with the flu. It is recommended that children over six months of age should take the annual flu vaccine.
Practice Good Hand Hygiene: The H3N2 virus spreads through respiratory droplets and can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. Therefore, it is essential to practice good hand hygiene to prevent the virus's spread. Encourage children to wash their hands frequently and to use hand sanitizer.
Teach Proper Cough and Sneeze Etiquette: The H3N2 virus spreads through respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Therefore, it is essential to teach children proper cough and sneeze etiquette. Encourage them to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. If a tissue is not available, they should cough or sneeze into their elbow.
Keep Surfaces Clean: The H3N2 virus can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. Therefore, it is essential to keep surfaces clean and disinfected. Use disinfectant wipes or sprays to clean surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and countertops.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: A healthy lifestyle can help prevent the H3N2 virus. Encourage children to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. A healthy lifestyle can strengthen the immune system, which can help fight off the virus.
Stay Home When Sick: If a child is sick with the flu, it is essential to keep them home which can also help prevent the spread of the virus.
Seek Medical Attention: If a child is down with the flu, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly.
The H3N2 virus can have significant effects on children. The virus can cause severe illness and lead to complications, that can affect a child's physical, social, and emotional health. Preventing the spread of the flu through vaccination and good hand hygiene is crucial to protecting children from the effects of the virus.