Real-time surveillance by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) shows that 955 cases of H1N1, also referred to as swine flu, have been reported by states till February 28.
A majority of H1N1 cases are reported from Tamil Nadu (545), Maharashtra (170), Gujarat (170), Kerala (42) and Punjab (28), the health ministry said in a recent statement.
It added that the IDSP-IHIP (integrated health information platform) data from health facilities indicates that during the month of January, 3.97 lakh cases of acute respiratory illness/influenza (ARI/ILI)-like illness were reported from the country that increased to 4.36 lakh during February. “In the first nine days of March, 1.33 lakh ARI/ILI cases were reported,” said an official.
“All patients with febrile illness aren’t getting tested. There is no need to. However, it is true that there is a mix of viral infections doing the rounds and that has led to a surge in ARI/ILI cases. The rate of complications or hospitalisation needed is high, especially among the elderly and people with pre-existing co-morbidities,” said Dr Rommel Tickoo, director, internal medicine, at Max Saket said.
Be it swine flu, Influenza A subtype H3N2 or Covid-19, all of them are spread mainly through virus droplets. Wearing a mask can help reduce the risk of infection caused by them, said another senior doctor.
Last week, the health ministry confirmed that two people had died due to infection caused by H3N2, a subtype of Influenza A virus that is known to cause seasonal flu.
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The ministry said current trends suggested pre-dominance of H3N2, which accounts for nearly 79% of all the influenza viruses found in samples taken from persons suffering from SARI or ILI. Influenza B Victoria (14%), a subtype of Influenza B, is the second most common virus subtype and Influenza A H1N1 (7%), also referred to as swine flu, is the third most commonly detected influenza virus.
More recently, a rising trend in Covid cases has also been observed in some parts of the country. Delhi, for example, reported a Covid positivity rate of 3.24% with 13 out of 401 samples testing positive.
In a letter to states and UTs, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said operational guidelines for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as cases of influenza-like illness or severe acute respiratory infection need to be followed.
Bhushan also requested taking stock of hospital preparedness, such as availability of drugs and medical oxygen, vaccination coverage against Covid-19 and influenza. “While the Covid-19 trajectory has decreased substantially in the last few months, the gradual rise in Covid-19 test positivity rates in some states is a concerning issue that needs to be promptly addressed,” Bhushan wrote.
All you need to know about H3N2