Flu season is on the rise in India, the country's Medical Association said on Friday, with a 'sudden increase' in the number of patients reporting flu-like symptoms – including a cough, nausea, vomiting, a sore thoat, body pain, and even diarrhea.
In a statement on Twitter, the association attributed this spike in cases to the H3N2 influenza virus, which lasts about five to seven days. While a fever tends to dissipate at the end of the third day, a cough can persist for up to three weeks, it warned.
The association has also cautioned residents against the use of antibiotics, warning that overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance. 70% of diarrhea cases, for example, are caused by a virus – in which case antibiotics are not needed, but are still being prescribed by doctors.
The IMA said the most commonly misused antibiotics are amoxicillin, norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin and levofloxacin – all of which are being prescribed for diarrhea and urinary tract infections (UTIs). The infection must first be diagnosed as bacterial before antibiotics are prescribed, it warns.
What is H3N2?
The H3N2 influenza virus, or Influenza A, is a subtype of viruses that can infect birds and mammals. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), it is a major cause of rising respiratory illness in India, and appears to cause more hospitalisations than other subtypes of influenza. In wide circulation around the country for the past few months, it also has a higher fatality rate than other viruses.
According to the CDC, people particularly susceptible to H3N2 include children younger than 5 years, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions (like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions).
Avoid crowded places, get vaccinated
To prevent the infection, avoid crowded places, the IMA warns. It also urges residents to practice good and respiratory hygiene, and get vaccinated.
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