Health department on alert after two suspected H3N2 deaths

Directs district health departments to report all cases of the Influence A virus subtype

The state health department said 1,406 suspected patients of H1N1 and H3N2 have been found after testing 2,56,624 people. Representation pic/Sameer Markande

As the influenza viruses are spreading rapidly across the state, the health department on Wednesday directed all the districts to report H3N2 cases. H1N1 (swine flu) cases are usually seen in February and March, but this time, H3N2 infection is also severely affecting people.

The health department has reported over 303 confirmed cases of swine flu and 58 H3N2 infections until March. There have been three deaths due to H1N1, while two people are suspected to have died of H3N2. Mumbai has four H3N2 and 28 H1N1 patients, and all of them are in stable condition, officials said. So far in 2023, the city has reported 118 cases.

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Meanwhile, experts have said the state, especially Mumbai, has been seeing more infections from H3N2 than COVID-19. H3N2 is a subtype of influenza A virus.

Several H3N2 cases could be going unreported, as people are avoiding test because of its high cost, sources said. Even experts have not been recommending tests and instead treating patients based on symptoms, they added. Although it is not a notifiable disease, the rise in cases and incidents of deaths are keeping the health department officials on their toes.

Also Read: Mumbai: Active Covid-19 cases rise 200 per cent in past 14 days

Dr Neeraj Tulara, infectious diseases specialist at Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, said “H1N1 has a high mortality rate, but not H3N2. However, H3N2 infection lasts long. People infected with swine flu have a cough and cold, and fever and recover in two-three days. Whereas, in case of an H3N2 infection, it takes up to a week for fever to go away, and about a month for cough and weakness to vanish.”

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Dr Tulara said the cost of H3N2 test is about Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000, “so patients avoid it and even we are not recommending it because of the cost. We recommend the test to only those not responding to treatment and people who have progressive illnesses.”

Isolation wards have been prepared at district hospitals and government-run medical colleges, said officials.

Dr Harshad Limaye, senior consultant, Infectious Diseases, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, said, “Every day, we encounter approximately 12-15 patients, most of whom are working individuals aged 25-50 years… However, there is no reason for panic.”

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