H3N2 virus How to protect children?

New Delhi, March 21 : Amid the rising number of flu infections caused by H3N2 virus, children have been particularly affected, said doctors on Tuesday. Doctors have reported a disturbing rise in H3N2 cases among children, especially those below the age of 5 years. According to media reports, infants and preschoolers have also been admitted in ICUs in Delhi and Pune. Classic symptoms of H3N2 infection include cough, cold, body ache, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. But when "it gets complicated it can lead to ear infections, pneumonia and in severest of the cases it can even lead to severe respiratory distress requiring oxygen and ventilator at times," Dr. Saurabh Khanna, Lead Consultant, Paediatrics & Neonatology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS. "Amongst children, those with asthma and other comorbid illnesses such as obesity, lung disease, neurological problems, and heart diseases are at an increased risk," said Dr. Amita Kaul, HOD & Senior Consultant Paediatrics, Surya Mother & Child Super Speciality Hospital, Pune. Fever in some cases could go as high as 104-105 F, vomiting, loose motion, cough/cold and in extreme cases convulsions and drowsiness. Symptoms usually last for 5-7 days. A persistent cough can also be seen in some patients lasting for a longer period. "If the cough is there for more than a week, it is advised to consult your paediatrician. Don't overuse the counter medication for cough for children less than 6 years," Kaul said. "The primary reason for the spike is due to lowered immunity. We had far less exposure to H3N2 during the last two winters due to Covid-19. Another reason for the spike is the lack of adequate flu vaccination," Dr Rajesh Bharadwaj, ENT Specialist, consultant on Practo, told IANS. Kaul said getting sufficient rest, increasing fluid intake, and diversifying their diet to include micronutrients can help children fight the virus. "Parents must judiciously use fever medicines, do not overuse as it can affect kidney function, practise tepid sponging in case of fever and provide children with a high protein diet. When stepping outside, it is important they avoid crowded areas and if they do they must wear a mask," Kaul said. The doctors also advised people to get regular flu vaccines every year, use masks, wash hands regularly and stay away from crowded places which act as medium of super spread of the virus. /IANS


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