Amid rising cases of the H3N2 virus across the country, the Union Ministry of Health on Friday said that the cases arising from seasonal influenza including H3N2 which has claimed one death each in Haryana and Karnataka are expected to decline from March end.
“India every year witnesses two peaks of seasonal influenza: one from January to March and the other in the post-monsoon season. The cases arising from seasonal influenza are expected to decline from March end,” the Union Health Ministry said in a press release.
Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses which circulate in all parts of the world, and the cases are seen to increase during certain months globally.
It further said that real-time surveillance of cases of Influenza-like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) presenting in OPDs and IPDs of health facilities is undertaken by Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to the latest data available on IDSP-IHIP (integrated health Information Platform), a total of 3038 laboratory-confirmed cases of various subtypes of Influenza including H3N2 have been reported till March 9 by the States. This includes 1245 cases in January 1307 in February and 486 cases till March 9.
Further, the IDSP-IHIP data from health facilities indicate that during the month of January 2023, a total of 397,814 cases of Acute Respiratory Illness/Influenza Like Illness (ARI/ILI) were reported from the country which increased slightly to 436,523 during February 2023. In the first 9 days of March 2023, this number stands at 133,412 cases.
The corresponding data for admitted cases of severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) is 7041 cases in January 2023, 6919 during February 2023 and 1866 during the first 9 days of March 2023.
Till February 28, a total of 955 H1N1 cases have been reported. The majority of the H1N1 cases are reported from Tamil Nadu (545) following Maharashtra (170), Gujarat (74), Kerala (42) and Punjab (28).
So far, Karnataka and Haryana have confirmed one death each from H3N2 influenza, it added.
The Ministry is also tracking and keeping a close watch on morbidity and mortality due to the H3N2 subtype of seasonal influenza.
Young children and old age persons with co-morbidities are the most vulnerable groups in the context of seasonal influenza.
The ministry has provided guidelines on the categorization of patients, treatment protocol, and guidelines on Ventilatory management to the states and UTs which are also available on the website of the Ministry (www.mohfw.nic.in) and NCDC (ncdc.gov.in).
It has also advised the state governments to vaccinate healthcare workers dealing with H1N1 cases.
However, according to the ministry, Oseltamivir is the drug recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for curing the infection.
“The drug is made available through the Public Health System free of cost. The government has allowed the sale of Oseltamivir under Schedule H1 of the Drug and Cosmetic Act in February 2017 for wider accessibility and availability,” it said.
Additionally, NITI Aayog will hold an inter-ministerial meeting on March 11 to review the seasonal influenza situation in the states and for ways to further support them in terms of public health measures, management guidelines and protocols.