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H3N2 Virus: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Spread

HealthcareOnTime Team 2023-07-04 2023-07-06 3 Min Read
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    What Is H3N2 Virus?

    The H3N2 influenza virus (H3N2 Flu) is a strain of the influenza A virus responsible for the widespread flu outbreaks worldwide. It is recognized by its unique combination of hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) proteins on its surface, which play crucial roles in viral attachment, entry, and release. The H3N2 common name is the Influenza A Virus. Over a decade ago, pigs were first found to be infected with Influenza A H3N2 viruses.

    The recent surge of H3N2 cases in India is a cause for concern, The spread of the H3N2 virus in India can be attributed to factors such as low flu vaccination rates, high pollution, and specific peak seasons. H3N2 cases in India predominantly affect individuals over 65 years and children below 5 years, causing severe infection.

    Did you know: 

    Flu, a contagious respiratory illness is a kind of influenza virus that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.

    Influenza A H3N2  Symptoms

    Infection with this virus can lead to a range of H3N2 virus symptoms. Common Symptoms of H3N2 virus include:

    • High fever
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Nasal congestion
    • Body aches
    • Fatigue
    • Headache
    • Chills
    • Sweating
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhoea

    Diagnosis Of H3N2

    The diagnosis of H3N2 virus infection involves a combination of clinical evaluation and laboratory testing, to confirm the diagnosis and differentiate it from other respiratory illnesses, specific laboratory tests are conducted such as:

    • Rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs): Such Diagnostic Test are used for initial screening and provide quick results within minutes via nasal or throat swabs. While RIDTs are convenient and offer rapid results, false-negative results are possible, especially if the viral load is low or if the test is performed late in the course of the illness.
    • Viral culture: This method is more time-consuming and may take several days to yield results. Viral culture allows for further analysis and characterization of the specific strain, which can be useful for surveillance purposes and monitoring viral evolution.
    • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing: PCR is a molecular technique that amplifies and detects viral genetic material, providing highly sensitive and specific results. This method is particularly useful for confirming the diagnosis, especially when rapid and accurate results are required.
    • Serological testing: Serological tests detect the presence of antibodies produced by the immune system in response to H3N2 virus infection. These tests are not commonly used for routine diagnosis but can be employed for epidemiological investigations, surveillance, and research purposes.

    H3N2 Virus Treatment

    The treatment of H3N2 virus infection focuses on relieving symptoms, reducing complications, and promoting recovery.

    Antiviral medications play an important role when managing H3N2 infections, especially in individuals at high risk of developing severe illness. Antiviral H3N2 treatment is most effective when initiated within the first 48 hours of symptom onset, but can still provide benefits if started later.

    In addition to antiviral medications, supportive care plays a crucial role in managing H3N2 infections such as:

    • Getting plenty of rest
    • Staying hydrated by drinking fluids
    • Using over-the-counter pain relievers (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to alleviate fever, headache, and body aches.

    Did you know: 

    The healthcare provider will always ask for proper rest & increasing fluid intake prior to starting the antiviral medication.

    How is H3N2 Flu Transmitted?

    H3N2 flu, similar to COVID-19 and other seasonal flu, is highly contagious and spreads through droplet infections. The virus can be acquired by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your face, or through close contact with an infected person. Symptoms typically persist for 5 to 7 days after infection.

    Controlling The Spread Of The H3N2 Virus

    Controlling the spread of the H3N2 virus is essential to prevent flu outbreaks and protect public health. Several measures can be taken to reduce transmission, Read to know more about how is H3N2 transmitted and can be controlled.

    • Vaccination: Annual influenza H3N2 vaccine is the most effective way to prevent this infection. Vaccines are formulated each year to protect against the specific strains expected to circulate. Vaccination not only reduces the risk of contracting the virus but also helps mitigate the severity of illness if an infection does occur. It is recommended that individuals, particularly those at higher risk of complications, such as the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and individuals with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), asthma, arthritis, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and certain autoimmune disorders., receive the influenza A vaccine.
    • Good respiratory hygiene: Practicing good respiratory hygiene can help limit the spread of H3N2 and other respiratory viruses. This includes covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or the elbow when coughing or sneezing, promptly disposing of used tissues, and performing regular hand hygiene afterward.
    • Hand hygiene: Regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is crucial in reducing the risk of viral transmission. When soap and water are not readily available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used as an alternative.
    • Avoiding close contact: Limiting close contact with individuals who are sick with flu-like symptoms can help prevent the spread of H3N2.

    Environmental cleaning: Cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, help in minimizing the risk of transmission.


    Ref Links: 

    • https://www.healthline.com/health-news/H3N2-flu-strain-what-to-know-about-the-deadly-outbreak-in-india

    FAQs Around H3N2

    Is H3N2 dangerous?

    The H3N2 influenza virus poses health risks, especially for vulnerable populations such as the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems.

    H3N2 how long does it last?

    The duration of an H3N2 infection can vary, but individuals can experience symptoms for about 5 to 7 days. However, recovery time can be influenced by various factors, including overall health and immune response.

    How Can You Catch H3N2 Flu?

    The H3N2 flu virus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

    Is There A Vaccine For H3N2 Flu?

    Yes, there are vaccines available that provide protection against H3N2 influenza viruses & are formulated each year to target the specific strains anticipated to circulate.

    Which is worse H1N1 or H3N2?

    H1N1 and H3N2 influenza strains have different impacts and can vary from season to season. But both strains have the potential to cause significant illness and complications.

    Is steam good for H3N2?

    Steam inhalation can provide temporary relief for symptoms of H3N2 influenza, but it does not directly target the virus itself.

    Does H3N2 cause permanent lung damage?

    Severe cases of H3N2 influenza can lead to complications, including pneumonia. But, not all H3N2 infections result in permanent lung damage.

    How do you test for H3N2?

    There are Various methods, like rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs), viral culture, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and serological testing.

    What is the H3N2 vaccine called?

    The vaccine specifically designed to target the H3N2 influenza strain called a flu shot.


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