Srinagar, Feb 13: While in previous flu seasons swine flu (H1N1) virus was the dominant strain in Kashmir valley, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Thursday said this year’s flu season has witnessed surge in flu cases due to an unexpected virus.
“Influenza B virus has overtaken swine flu virus this season, which is not typical,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“More than 80% flu cases this season, so far were because of this virus,” he said.
“At SKIMS hospital, out of 398 positive cases, 318 were because of influenza B and only 80 were positive for swine flu. 91 confirmed cases needed hospitalization,” Dr Nisar said.
“Also, at SMHS hospital, most of the cases were positive for influenza B,” he said adding that majority of these cases were detected in this month which gives us to understand that there is increase in flu activity.”
Dr Nisar said influenza B virus is a flu virus that is only known to infect humans and has no animal reservoir in contrast to swine flu and other influenza A viruses.
There are two types of influenza B virus – Yamgata and Victoria.
He said the virus is a respiratory virus and symptoms are similar to swine flu like fever, cough, sorethroat, runny nose and bodyache. The virus is spread by droplet infection from one person to another.
“Though the virus causes only mild disease but it can cause severe disease and even death in high risk groups like young children, elderly, pregnant women and in those with medical conditions,” Dr Nisar said.
“Early antiviral medication can treat the illness and prevent complications, and should be given to people who are very sick and to high risk groups,” he said.
It is not too late to get vaccinated, but people should get quadrivalent vaccine which is designed to protect against both types of B virus and has shown to have greater effectiveness in prevention of flu caused by influenza B virus than trivalent vaccine,” said Dr Nisar.