Amid the significant increase in cases of respiratory diseases in recent weeks in several Brazilian states, including Minas Gerais, the notification of diagnoses related to influenza A/H3N2 has attracted the attention of many people. That’s because influenza A viruses are common but seasonal – occurring in the winter months. Data released by the State Department of Health (SES-MG) on December 23 shows that 147 cases of H3N2 have been diagnosed through samples collected by Ezequiel Dias (Funed), as well as a 36% increase in respiratory care only in the state capital of Minas Gerais. .
“Seven-day isolation, hand hygiene and the use of masks, as well as all the precautions we are taking to protect ourselves from Covid-19, still apply to other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza,” explains Fundação’s assistant director. Hospitalist from Minas Gerais (Fhemig), Lucinia Carvalhaes, who is also an infectious disease doctor.
According to Lucineia, influenza viruses are highly contagious and can infect adults and children. Cases usually do not develop into serious ones, but add to existing comorbidities in patients, and therefore, attention should be doubled. Because of the greater risk, there are groups of interest: patients in the most extreme stages of life (children in early childhood and the elderly), as well as pregnant women and women who have just given birth.
The Director reminds of the need to raise awareness regarding the admission of visitors and escorts in hospitals and other health facilities, to prevent transmission of the disease to vulnerable patients. If a person develops symptoms, it is best to avoid contact. The rule also applies to health professionals, that they maintain care in times of a pandemic, even with advanced vaccination among the population.
Symptoms are those known from influenza: cough, fever (not always), sore throat, runny nose, and myalgia (myalgia). Treatment can be with antipyretics (in case of fever) and common analgesics, in addition to rest.
Lucinia notes that the flu vaccine, which appears on the health calendar, is updated each year by the World Health Organization (WHO), which studies the genetic differences of viruses and their current incidence. A/H3N2 influenza, for example, was first discovered in 1968, in Hong Kong, and has been part of the vaccine for several years, after these viral mutations, including those made available at health centers in the last campaign, this year.
The problem is that we’ve focused on Covid-19. People have been vaccinated against this disease and have not been vaccinated against influenza. Moreover, while the flu was circulating naturally (winter), we were at home protecting ourselves from the pandemic – which prevented the virus from spreading in those months. With increased circulation in the streets and social interactions in schools and work, the virus was delayed to start a new cycle that ends concurrently with the next. In other words, there will be no interruption in the next six months, ”explains the doctor.
Although most cases are not serious, it is a good idea to be aware of the symptoms, which can progress to hospitalization. Still, seeking medical advice is the best way to avoid complications and ensure a good recovery.
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