H3N2 flu virus on rise, IMA advises against antibiotic use

New Delhi: Several patients have reported a rise in flu cases with symptoms including high grade fever and persistent cough, said the Indian Medical Association on Saturday, while cautioning against use of antibiotics.

The mounting infections are due to the H3N2 influenza virus, which lasts between five to seven days, the association said in a statement on Twitter, noting that it is seasonal.

Recent data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also shows that H3N2 – a sub-type of the influenza virus – has been in wide circulation for the last two-three months.

“A sudden increase in the number of patients having symptoms of cough, nausea, vomiting, sore throat fever, bodyache and diarrhoea in some cases,” the IMA wrote on Twitter.

“While fever goes away at the end of three days, coughs can persist for three weeks,” it added, advising doctors to avoid prescribing antibiotics to such patients.

Further, the IMA said that the cases are typically seen in people over the age of 50 and below 15. Some are also reporting upper respiratory infection along with fever. “Air pollution” is also a precipitating factor.

It advised medical practitioners to give only symptomatic treatment as there is no need for antibiotics.

The IMA pointed out that people have started taking antibiotics like Athreycin and Amoxiclav etc without caring for dose and frequency and they stop once they start feeling better. They added that “this needs to be stopped as it leads to antibiotic resistance.”

“Whenever there will be a real use of antibiotics, they will not work due to the resistance,” the IMA wrote.

The medical association advised avoiding crowded places, practising good hand and respiratory hygiene practices as well as flu vaccination.

Harshal R. Salve, Professor at the Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, said the increase in the transmission of flu virus is due to abrupt “climatic conditions currently prevalent”.

“Serological surveillance through established mechanisms in the public health system by the government is essential to determine serotype of the virus and its endemic,” Salve told IANS.

Doctors from Primus Hospital, Chanakyapuri, noted that patients with asthma, and those with severe lung infections are finding difficulty in breathing.

Elderly people, children and pregnant women are most vulnerable to getting infected. Therefore, they must remain extra cautious while venturing outside, the doctors said.

“Patients having chronic ailments like asthma have to be extra cautious during such weather transitions as it can trigger severe respiratory issues and asthma attacks. During this time, even a minor respiratory problem must be reported to a pulmonologist or a physician to reduce the risk of escalating the problem,” Chhabra added.


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