Friday, March 31, 2023

States asked to monitor influenza, Covid trends

Covid positivity rate increasing amid rising H3N2 cases

Amid a rise in cases of the seasonal influenza subtype H3N2, the Centre on Saturday expressed concern over a gradual increase in the COVID-19 positivity rate in some states and said it needed to be promptly addressed.
The Centre requested all states and Union territories to follow operational guidelines for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI).
The states were also requested to take a stock of hospital preparedness such as availability of drugs and medical oxygen, vaccination coverage against COVID-19 and influenza.
“While the COVID-19 trajectory has decreased substantially in last few months, the gradual rise in COVID-19 test positivity rates in some states is a concerning issue that needs to be promptly addressed,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states and UTs on Saturday.
Despite low number of new cases, equally low number of hospitalisations and significant advances made in terms of COVID-19 vaccination coverage, Bhushan said, there is a need to remain vigilant and focus on the five-fold strategy of test, track, treat, vaccination and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour.
In light of rising trend in other ILIs and SARIs being witnessed in some states and UTs across the country, a meeting was held recently to review the current situation with the central ministries, departments and organisations concerned.
Under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), as reported by states and UTs, an increasing trend of ILI/SARI is being observed across the country, Bhushan stated.
Further, according to integrated sentinel based surveillance of ILI and SARI, an upswing of Influenza A is observed since the latter half of December last.

H3N2 virus: More patients reporting pneumonia-like conditions, ear fullness
IANS: Amid the rising number of influenza cases seen in the country, more patients are reporting pneumonia-like conditions and ear fullness, doctors said here on Saturday.
Speaking to IANS, Rajiv Gupta, Consultant – Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, said that the “fullness of ear is an additional symptom noticed in this episode of flu”.
“Many patients at day five or six of the illness start complaining of fullness in the ears or feel like something is blocked inside the ears. It is more common in young adults,” he added.
According to Mayo Clinic, ear fullness occurs when your ears feel plugged.
“Your eustachian tubes – which run between your middle ear and the back of your nose – become blocked. A person may experience a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears.” It is in some cases also accompanied with ear pain, dizziness and muffled hearing.

“Of particular concern is preponderance of Influenza A (H3N2) being detected in the samples being analysed in various labs. It should also be kept in mind that young children, old age people and people suffering from co-morbidites are particularly at risk and vulnerable to H1N1, H3N2, adenoviruses, etc,” he said.
Additionally, since January 1, as per testing of respiratory samples being undertaken by various viral research and diagnostic labs (VRDLs), almost 25.4 per cent of the samples have tested positive for adenoviruses, he said. While most of these agents typically cause a similar mild and often self-limiting illness manifesting acute respiratory infection with fever and cough, in some cases, particularly old age people, people with obesity and other co-morbidities as well as pregnant females, those infected may suffer from a more severe manifestation of these diseases requiring hospitalisation, Bhushan underlined.
“In order to limit transmission of these diseases, it is important to raise community awareness regarding adherence to respiratory and hand hygiene and promoting early reporting of symptoms, and limiting contact of those people who are suffering from respiratory illness,” Bhushan wrote in the letter.
In terms of requisite public health actions, it is essential that state and district IDSP units closely follow the trend of ILI and SARI in their respective areas, monitor the proportion of cases and refer sufficient number of samples for testing for influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and adenovirus.
“All states and UTs must in letter and spirit implement ‘Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in Context of COVID-19’ which provides for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as cases of ILI/SARI,” the letter stated.
Puducherry has reported 79 cases of influenza cases belonging to the viral H3N2 subtype so far, a health official said on Saturday. In a press release, the Union Territory’s Director of Medical Services G Sriramulu stated that the count of H3N2 cases were reported till March 4 in Puducherry, but there was no death due to the virus in the UT till now.
Of the 225 samples collected in January and February in Odisha, 59 were found positive for H3N2 influenza in the state, officials said on Saturday.
Gujarat health minister Rushikesh Patel on Saturday said that the state has reported one death due to H1N1, adding that no death has been reported due to H3N2 till March 10 in the state.

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