So far this flu season, Swine flu (H1N1) virus has been dominant, but a more aggressive H3N2 strain has overtaken it, said Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday in a communiqué.
“Now, H3N2 is more frequently reported than H1N1,” said DAK President and flu expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in recent weeks more than half of the reported flu cases are due to H3N2 infection,” he said.
Dr Nisar said the virus is emerging as a predominant strain and is causing a secondary wave of flu.
“History has shown that flu seasons that were dominated by H3N2 were more severe – causing more hospitalizations and deaths than seasons dominated by H1N1 or B virus,” he said adding that “H3N2 can be particularly deadly for older adults and very young children.”
“With the shift to a dangerous strain, we could have a bad second half of this flu season which has just begun,” Dr Nisar said.
“The symptoms of H3N2 flu include cough, runny nose, sorethroat, high grade fever and bodyache,” he said.
“Vaccine is the best way to protect against the virus and its serious complications.
This year’s flu vaccine has been updated and is effective against the currently circulating H3N2.
Those who have not yet been vaccinated should get it now and vaccination should continue as long as the flu is circulating,” advised Dr Nisar.
“If you get the virus, you should start early antiviral medication that will prevent serious complications and death.
Use of antibiotics for flu is not only inappropriate but also puts patients at risk of antibiotic-resistant infections,” cautioned Dr Nisar.