Is the H3N2 virus dangerous for your child? Pediatricians answer


Doctors are reporting a disturbing rise in H3N2 cases among children, especially those below the age of 5 years. Many of these infants and preschoolers are landing in ICUs in Delhi and Pune and not even responding to medication.
Dr. Pankaj Dutt, MBBS MD, Senior Consultant-Paediatrics, Godrej Memorial Hospital, Mumbai says, “For children, the complications of H3N2 can be quite serious. In addition to the typical symptoms of the flu such as fever, cough, and sore throat, children may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration, severe weakness, lethargy. The recovery period is a little longer. They may also be at higher risk of developing pneumonia or other respiratory infections, which can lead to hospitalization and even mortality in severe cases.”

Dr Parvinder Singh Narang, Head of Department, Pediatrics, Max super Speciality hospital, Shalimar Bagh shares, “Generally children tend to recover but they are a source to spread viruses to others. Kids with other diseases like respiratory diseases- pneumonia, heart disease, other physical challenges like development delays, they can get serious with respiratory infections like flu. Hence it is very important we prevent flu with good hygiene and vaccination.”

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Symptoms of H3N2 flu infection

Dr Parvinder Singh Narang shares, “The symptoms need to be realized and no unnecessary use of antibiotics should be done. The symptoms are high fever, bodyache, and headache. The respiratory symptoms start later, not in the beginning and no need for giving antibiotics to the patient as flu is a viral illness and it gets better on its own. Antiviral medication if started in the first 2 days can help reduce the symptoms, and antiviral medication is only used in these cases where you diagnose them very early, it’s not required for all patients unless they have some comorbidity that can cause another problem in recovery. So at the moment due to the increase in flu cases it is better to take vaccination and maintain good hygiene.”

Parents should watch out for signs that their child’s flu symptoms are worsening, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe headache, confusion, or a fever that lasts more than three days. If a child is showing any of these signs, it is important to seek medical attention right away, adds Dr Pankaj.

The need for vaccination

Vaccination is advised by Indian academy of pediatrics for all kids below the age of 5, and also in persons with any associated medical conditions pertaining to the heart, neurology, or respiratory. So the plan of vaccination in children is from 6 months to 5 years. To start with 2 doses in the first year and subsequently repeat the flu vaccine every year before the rainy season starts. This increase in H3N2 is more because there has been some mismatch with the strain that is prevailing with the vaccination, but still the flu vaccination will be able to help curtail flu like illnesses in general. So every close contact with sick individuals must keep a good hygiene and take the flu vaccine, the prevention is by vaccination and good hygiene.

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