Currently, the H3N2 influenza virus, also known as type A virus, is one of the leading causes of influenza and the common cold. Seasonally, the virus usually spreads throughout the year, in different regions of the world, especially in autumn and winter.
The H3N2 virus, which is easily transmitted from person to person through droplets from coughing, sneezing or talking, appeared in Hong Kong in the 1960s, but a new mutation that occurred in Australia worries medical authorities. The variant, called Darwin, has been responsible for the increase in cases in Brazil. Learn more about this new strain, as well as the treatment and prevention of H3N2 flu.
A new outbreak of H3N2 influenza increased the number of cases of the disease in Brazil. The increase in cases has drawn attention to the period in which it occurs: just before the arrival of summer, a period in which the peaks of the disease do not usually appear. Some reasons have been pointed out, such as the relaxation of protection measures against Covid-19, in addition to non-compliance with the national flu vaccination campaign and the ineffectiveness of the vaccine against the new variant.
This is because, although the current immunization is designed to fight H3N2, it does not protect against Darwin. According to the Butantan Institute, the new flu vaccine formula will include the strain, and production should start in January, as recommended by the World Health Organization.
How the Transmission Takes Place
The H3N2 influenza is a respiratory virus, that is, its transmission occurs in a similar way to the coronavirus. In this way, influenza can be spread through droplets expelled by coughing, sneezing or the words of the infected person. Also, it’s common to get the flu from touching contaminated surfaces.
The main symptoms of H3N2 flu are:
- High temperature – above 38 degrees – and sudden
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Body pain
- Joint pain
- Very Easy
In some cases, there may be vomiting and diarrhea, these manifestations are rare and more frequent in children.
How to prevent the H3N2 flu
The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent H3N2 flu. Therefore, it is recommended for everyone from 6 months of age, including older children and adolescents. In addition, all health professionals should receive the annual vaccine, as it helps reduce the risks related to the transmission of the virus.
Another way to prevent contagion is to wash your hands frequently and ventilate the environments, as well as measures similar to those approved for the prevention of the coronavirus: use of a mask, gel alcohol and social distancing.
The most appropriate treatment includes good hydration and rest. In addition, pain relievers and antipyretics such as paracetamol and dipyrone can be used to relieve symptoms.
People at high risk of complications, such as children under 5 years of age, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, for example, should see a doctor for an evaluation of antiviral therapy.
H3N2 flu and Covid-19: how do we tell the difference?
The main similarity between the diseases is in the transmission: both pass through the air. In this sense, the H3N2 flu presents symptoms similar to those of Covid. Therefore, it is common to confuse the two diseases. To differentiate them, it is necessary to carry out a PCR test to confirm which virus is responsible for the infection.
Despite having similar symptoms, influenza has a lower case fatality rate, between 0.1% and 0.2%, while Covid is between 1% and 2%. The difference also lies in the severity of the initial symptoms of influenza, since they are stronger than those presented by people with Covid who have already been vaccinated.