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Severe Flu On the Rise, Warns ICMR: How Can You Protect Yourself?

The ICMR has also warned against the misuse of antibiotics amid flu outbreaks in parts of the country.

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Amid a spike in cases of respiratory illness and severe flu-like symptoms being reported in several parts of the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has released an advisory of Dos and Don'ts to help protect oneself.

What's causing the surge in persistent cold, cough and fever this time around? How can you protect yourself?

FIT Answers your FAQs.

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Is it being caused by a strain of the COVID-19 virus?

No, ICMR has pinned Influenza A subtype H3N2 as the cause for the rise in flu cases in parts of the country, adding that surveillance data shows it's been spreading for the last 2 - 3 months.

What are the symptoms of this flu strain?

The most common symptoms being reported are,

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • Runny nose

  • Persistent cough

  • Breathlessness

How severe is it?

Experts say subtype H3N2 seems to be causing more hospitalisations than other influenza virus strains. Some of these patients are also presenting signs of pneumonia.

According to the statement released by ICMR, out of the severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) patients that are hospitalised with influenza A H3N2,

  • About 92 percent are suffering from fever

  • 86 percent from cough

  • 27 percent from breathlessness

  • 16 percent had clinical signs of pneumonia

  • 6 percent has seizures

  • 10 percent needed oxygen

  • 7 percent required ICU care

Can taking antibiotics help treat it?

No, since the flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics don't work against it.

In fact the ICMR, in their statement, has also warned against the indiscriminate use of antibiotics which can further fuel the crisis of antibiotic resistance.

"We have already seen widespread use of Azithromycin and Ivermectin during COVID and this too has led to resistance. It is necessary to diagnose whether the infection is bacterial or not before prescribing antibiotics."
ICMR in a statement

The National health authority has also asked doctors to not prescribe antibiotics, and only recommend symptomatic treatment.

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What can I do to protect myself?

The ICMR in their statement has suggested some Dos to help protect against the virus.

  • Wash their hands thoroughly from time to time

  • Wear a well-fitted face mask in public, especially if you have flu-like symptoms

  • Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing

  • Stay hydrated

What shouldn't I do?

The ICMR has also put down some Don'ts.

  • Avoid shaking hands

  • Don't Spit in public

  • Avoid touching your face

  • Don't self-medicate with antibiotics

  • Avoid eating while sitting close to others

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Topics:  FAQ   Influenza 

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