Mumbai: In the last five days, the number of citizens falling sick due to influenza A (H3N2 variant) has been steadily rising across Maharashtra. H3N2 cases have doubled between March 16 and March 20 as compared to the figures recorded from January 1 to March 15. So far, seven influenza deaths have been recorded in the state; three are confirmed deaths of H1N1 and one of H3N2.
Experts have attributed the surge to fluctuating temperatures as it was unusually hot in February while March witnesses unseasonal rains. The influenza virus thrives more owing to the vagaries of weather. Hence, doctors have urged people exhibiting flu symptoms should wear a mask to avoid spreading it to others.
Very few hospitalisations
As per the data provided by the public health department, the state had reported only 119 H3N2 cases from January 1 to March 15, which increased to 249 between March 16 and March 20. Senior health official said H3N2 cases have spiked in the past week though influenza spread was going on for a month.
“Nearly 60-70% of patients coming to hospitals are having flu symptoms; which accounts for six out of 10 patients. In the past 2-3 weeks, many pregnant women have been coming with flu symptoms,” he said, pointing out that only few patients are getting hospitalised if they do not respond to medications. Doctors said higher age and multiple comorbidities always increase symptoms and delay recovery.
BMC Executive Health Officer Dr Mangala Gomare said with the rise in H3N2 cases, they are conducting house-to-house surveys to find fever cases. “We have found that most of the Covid cases are asymptomatic. There is nothing to panic about,” the official added.
According to the health experts, there are two main factors – host and environment – behind the steady rise in all viral respiratory illnesses; be it influenza or Covid. “Host factors include avoidance of face masks, casual attitude towards general health, lack of hand hygiene and more social gatherings. Environmental factors include poor air quality and too much construction all around,” they said.
H3N2 cases between January 1 and March 15
Rise in the figure from March 16-20
Total no. of H1N1 cases
Total no. of H3N2 cases
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