With change of season kicking in, viral infections are known to be commonplace. However, multiple states have reported a surge in influenza cases, onwards mid-February, with symptoms lasting nearly two weeks. Making matters worse is the fact that despite the fever and severity of cough abating, the weakness and chest congestion continue to linger indefinitely. Health officials in Ahmedabad also report that the cases, having tested negative for Covid-19, are being sent for further testing and sequencing for H1N1 (swine flu).
According to the National Centre for Disease Control’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, the highest number of H1N1 cases have been reported from Maharashtra.
On the other hand, ICMR figures show H3N2, a sub-type of the influenza virus, has been in wide circulation for the last two-three months—slightly more than the swine flu virus.
While West Bengal has attributed the cases to Adenovirus, which, unfortunately is taking a fatal turn in case of infants, Gujarat medics are worried as no clear strain has been detected.
“A large number of influenza cases are being reported across the city. So far, no severity, death or hospitalization has been reported but we are left clueless on how to tackle the resultant weakness and associated impairment. There is a need for government to investigate in this direction. We will raise the issue of the spike in influenza cases in the health ministry,” shared Ahmedabad-based Dr Vishal Mehta.
The senior physician at a leading private hospital shared concerns of the flu being a new variant with “yet to be identified clinical scenarios.”
At the Gujarat Biotechnology University in Gandhinagar, scientists allay fears of another covid wave. “The strain is on the wane,” shares a researcher, not wanting to be named, “however, we cannot be caught unawares. There must be a proper study to understand the pathogen, its symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis. Some cases have been detected to adeno virus.”
Virologists concur that influenza virus infections declined globally during the pandemic. “This inadvertently led to loss of natural immunity and may have resulted in increased susceptibility to influenza virus infection. We are witnessing rampant spread of flu during the last two months. Every other person is down with fever, cough, loss of voice and breathlessness. Uncontrollable cough is a frequent symptom. H3N2 influenza should not be confused with H1N1 (swine flu) which is potentially lethal. Elderly people above 75 years of age and those with compromised immunity may be gripped even more severely,” elaborated Dr Mehta.