Low immunity people prone to spring spike of influenza cases in Kashmir: DAK

Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday said that people with low immunity are prone to spring spike of influenza cases in Kashmir valley.

With the spring spike of influenza cases rising in Kashmir valley, DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan said that “H3N2 a common seasonal flu virus, has been in circulation for the last 55 years”.

“People haven’t been exposed to influenza in the past two flu seasons due to Covid restrictions which has led to lower levels of natural immunity within the population,” he said

Dr Hassan said we see influenza cases every year during winter months. The last two seasons witnessed negligible flu cases because of Covid precautions including wearing of face masks and social distancing.

“Now that people are out without masks, travelling extensively, business has resumed and children are back to schools, flu has made a comeback,” he said.

The DAK President said in typical years a good percentage of the population gets infected with these viruses and builds immunity against the infections.

“So more people are susceptible to these viruses that are causing spike in cases in this season,” he said.

Dr Nisar said flu viruses have a tendency to mutate. He said small changes keep on happening and that could be another reason that we have severe and prolonged flu cases in unusual times of this year’s flu season.

He said the H3N2 flu virus is not new. It is the commonest seasonal flu virus and has been in circulation for the last 55 years.

The 1968 flu pandemic was caused by H3N2. The pandemic was over in two years, but the virus became a seasonal affair, peaks in every winter causing milder illness, he added.

“Though H3N2 virus is dominant, H1N1 popularly called swine flu has been reported in a significant number of influenza cases in Kashmir,” he added.

Dr Arshad Ali of the association advised people who develop flu symptoms like cough, fever, runny nose and sore throat should isolate themselves till their symptoms resolve.

“Doctors should prescribe antiviral medicines instead of antibiotics to flu patients,” he said.