H3N2 infection spreads throughout India

(MainsGS3:Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.)


  • Country faces the H3N2 subtype of seasonal influenza which has infected rising numbers of people.

About H3N2:

  • The influenza A virus is known to cause seasonal flu disease in humans which are divided into subtypes based on two proteins found on the surface of the virus: hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). 
  • There are 18 H-subtypes and 11 N-subtypes and more than 130 influenza A subtype combinations have been identified in nature so far, but virus reassortment, a process by which influenza viruses swap genetic information, makes many more subtypes possible, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.
  • The H3N2 subtype appears to cause more hospitalisations than other influenza subtypes.
  •  Out of the SARI (severe acute respiratory infections) patients infected with H3N2, 10% needed oxygen, and 7% needed ICU support.


  • Infection by the H3N2 subtype of influenza A virus presents with classic flu symptoms that are also similar to COVID-19 symptoms – fever, cough, body ache, breathlessness, wheezing and pneumonia.
  • Seasonal influenza can also cause severe cough that can last around two or more weeks, although most patients recover within a week without medical intervention.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pregnant women, children under five years of age, the elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions are at a greater risk of developing a severe form of flu, including that from the H3N2 subtype.

Prevention of disease:

  • According to experts, washing hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent infection from the H3N2 subtype. 
  • The government has also advised citizens to wear masks and practise social distancing to avoid infection.
  • Covering mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing, avoiding touching eyes and nose, and drinking fluids are other ways to prevent H3N2 infection, the Health Ministry said in a press release. 
  • The ministry also advised against taking antibiotics or other medication without consulting doctors.

Cure of disease:

  • WHO recommends using oseltamivir (tamiflu) for H3N2 infection. 
  • The drug is made available free of cost through public health systems, the health ministry said.
  • The sale of oseltamivir in India is allowed under Schedule H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
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