What You Need to Know About the H3N2 Virus.

Symptoms, safeguards, and more. Get the facts, to stay better protected from the H3N2 flu.

What You Need to Know About the H3N2 Virus.

It is said that gossip spreads fast…but do you know what can spread even faster? The flu! The H3N2 flu has been all over the news and chat groups lately and it’s sometimes tough to separate fact from fiction. While we may have heard a lot about this flu subtype lately, it certainly isn’t a new strain and has been around for a while. Knowing the symptoms and precautionary measures can help you keep yourself and your loved ones safer and a couple of steps ahead of flu-related maladies.

A variant of the Influenza A type virus, H3N2 also known as H3N2v, is a type of swine flu that also infects humans and causes respiratory illnesses. With symptoms similar to seasonal flu, it can range from mild to severe and is found to have more complications as compared to the H1N1 variant.

The symptoms include, but may not be limited to:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fever
  • Body/muscle ache
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
Ways To Keep The Seasonal Flu At Bay

Here we are going to bust some myths with a few facts, and help you be better prepared for your health. 

Myth: The H3N2 flu is the same as catching a cold.

Fact: While there is some overlap between symptoms of a common cold and the flu, influenza can be more intense and leave you feeling a little worse for wear. Colds are generally milder, have a shorter recovery period and generally do not lead to further complications. A persistent cough often accompanied by fever is a standout symptom of the H3N2 flu in particular, as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Whether it's the flu, a cold or COVID-19, when in doubt, test test test!

Myth: It affects only a certain age group.

Fact: The H3N2 virus is unfortunately fairly indiscriminate and can infect children and adults alike. While most uncomplicated cases can be dealt with as you would a regular flu, additional medical care could be required for those in certain higher risk categories such as adults over 65, children under 5, pregnant women, those who are immunocompromised or with chronic illnesses like diabetes, cardiac disease, asthma etc. Regardless of risk factor, do contact your doctor if you are going through symptoms such as dizziness, persistent vomiting and chest pain, or in case of renewed symptoms. Keeping a watch on the intensity of your symptoms will help stay on top of your flu and enable timely intervention if required. Also, no matter your age and stage, make sure you rest and hydrate well.

Myth: You don’t need a shot, if you have been vaccinated as a child.

Fact: The flu vaccine is one of the most effective precautionary measures to help protect against flu variants and flu-specific illnesses. For optimal protection, it is recommended that the flu shot be taken annually, for both adults and kids. Additionally, since predominant flu strains often vary from year to year and also evolve, it is essential to stay updated and on top of your shots every year.

“It is important to understand influenza and the preventive measures to protect against this seasonal infection and its complications. With influenza strains evolving every year, the WHO updates vaccine recommendations based on the strain currently in circulation. This makes annual flu shots important for optimal protection, especially as immunity supported by the vaccination can decrease after a year.” –  Dr. V Ramasubramanian, Senior Consultant Infectious Diseases, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai and Medical Director, Capstone Multispecialty Clinic, Chennai.

Myth: Medication is the only precaution.

Fact: While immunization is key to protect yourself and medicines can help deal with symptoms, there are other safeguards you can put in place as well for yourself and for the wellbeing of others. Influenza, including the H3N2 variant, is highly contagious. The H3N2 virus is air borne and can also spread through contact with an infected person or touching contaminated surfaces. Basic measures followed during the Covid pandemic, also help in this case. Wearing a mask in public places, frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth often, covering your mouth while sneezing or coughing etc. can all help prevent the spread of the virus.

Exercise caution during flu season and stay indoors if you are unwell to better protect yourself and those around you.  Always consult your doctors when you are feeling under the weather, to ensure that panic and misinformation also don’t go, well, viral!

Disclaimer: The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive /for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information.