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Influenza A Subtype H3N2 Is the Major Cause of Current Respiratory Illness: ICMR

IMA advises doctors to avoid prescription of antibiotics to the patients with seasonal fever, cold & cough

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA. Mumbai: Based on its pan-respiratory virus surveillance across 30 Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDLs), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has stated that the influenza A subtype H3N2 is the major cause of current respiratory illness in the country.

Surveillance data from December 15, 2022, to date, reflects the rise in the number of cases of influenza A H3N2. About half of all inpatients admitted for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI), as well as outpatients being treated for influenza-like illness, are found to have influenza A H3N2, the ICMR stated in its dashboard information.

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“This subtype appears to cause more hospitalization than other influenza subtypes. Of the hospitalised SARI patients with influenza A H3N2, about 92 percent presented with fever, 86 percent with cough, 27 percent with breathlessness, and 16 percent with wheezing. Additionally, 16 percent had clinical signs of pneumonia, and 6 percent had seizures. 10 percent of SARI patients who have H3N2, needed oxygen, while 7 percent required ICU care. The H3N2 has been in wide circulation for the last two to three months,” the ICMR stated.

The ICMR report has said that the resistance to powerful antibiotics has risen by up to 10 percent in a year. Besides, the rise of multidrug-resistant pathogens called Acinetobacter baumannii attacks the lungs of a patient.

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Major hospitals in Mumbai are recording 10 to 12 cases of influenza every day, and most patients are aged between 25 and 50 years. They have reported symptoms such as high fever, throat pain, cough, and cold.

In another development, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), in a public advisory dated March 3, posted on social media, advised people and medical practitioners to avoid the prescription of antibiotics to patients with seasonal fever, colds, and coughs.

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The notice pointed out a sudden rise in the number of patients with symptoms such as cough, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, fever, body ache, and even diarrhoea in some cases. It also advised doctors to give only symptomatic treatment and not to prescribe antibiotics to patients.

“The infection usually lasts for about five to seven days. The fever goes away at the end of three days, but the cough can persist for up to three weeks,” the IMA stated. They also said that it is common to have a seasonal cold or cough from October to February because of influenza and other viruses.

“People start taking antibiotics like azithromycin and amoxiclav, etc., that too without caring for dose and frequency, and stop it once they start feeling better. 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 notice further read.

The IMA also listed the misused antibiotics, including amoxicillin, norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin, which were prescribed for diarrhoea and urinary tract infection (UTI). The IMA advised avoiding crowded places and practising good hand and respiratory hygiene practices, as well as getting the flu vaccination.

Also Read: Tests for Lateral Flow Being Developed for Avian Flu Outbreaks in UK


  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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