As mercury drops, Pune doctors caution against more cough, cold cases
Existing cases of cough and fever are being attributed to the influenza A subtype H3N2 by scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
As rain accompanied by thunder in many parts of the city on Monday and Tuesday led to a drastic fall in mercury levels with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) Pune recording a minimum temperature of 17.4 degrees Celsius and maximum of 30.1 degrees Celsius, doctors warned against a further rise in cases of cold and cough.
Existing cases of cough and fever are being attributed to the influenza A subtype H3N2 by scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). This subtype of the influenza A virus was discovered in humans in 1968. It derives from types of protein strains of the influenza A virus namely Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA). While HA has over 18 different subtypes, numbered H1 to H18, NA has 11 different subtypes, numbered N1 to N11. H3N2 is a combination of the two protein strains of the influenza A virus.
Dr Pradeep Awate, surveillance officer, state health department, said, “Currently, there is extremely erratic weather in Pune and maximum temperature is three times more than minimum temperature. When such temperature fluctuation is recorded, it is conducive to viral growth. Currently, people are getting H3N2 flu which is a seasonal flu.”
“There is nothing to worry but symptomatically, people are facing some problems due to it. Instead of taking unnecessary antibiotics, people should take rest and do saline gurgling or turmeric water gurgling as it is more beneficial than antibiotics,” Awate said.
Both Covid-19 and H3N2 are caused by contagious viruses. They can spread through droplets and also mutate significantly. Although both these respiratory illnesses are highly transmissible, they belong to different virus families. While Covid-19 is caused by the SARs-CoV-2 virus, H3N2 is one of the influenza A subtypes circulating in humans. Reportedly, the latter can lead to more cases of hospitalisations compared to other strains.
Dr Vijay Natarajan, chief executive officer (CEO), Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Centre, Lavale, said, “During change of seasons, viral illness always increases and it happens every year. What has made things complicated this year is missing the spring season.”
During spring, day temperatures increase to 25 to 30 degrees Celsius while night temperatures rise from 10 to 12 degrees Celsius to 15 degrees Celsius but it did not happen this time. Instead, night temperatures remained low at 8 to 10 degrees Celsius and day temperatures shot up to 37 to 38 degrees Celsius.
“Since last month, we have been seeing daily weather fluctuations. So, because of the wide fluctuation in temperature, viral illnesses are increasing. This is the variant of the influenza virus and it does not have any treatment per se,” Dr Natarajan said.
“People should wear masks as this is not only for Covid. It is a stronger flu virus and cases are on the rise because of extreme variations in temperature. Mask discipline should be followed by people,” Dr Natarajan said.
So far, most influenza patients are reporting upper respiratory tract symptoms including persistent cough, headache, fever, sore throat, running nose, etc. However, what has been noted is a lingering cough that just does not go away. According to the Indian Medical Association, the seasonal fever will last five to seven days but in some cases, the cough can persist for up to three weeks.