Tackling Health Crises
Even as India is continuing to tackle COVID-19 despite cases having significantly dropped since its outbreak in 2020, the surge in viral infections due to Influenza A subtype H3N2, H1N1 and adenovirus, including fatalities, in several parts of the country has become a cause of worry among doctors and public alike. Officials from Health and Family Welfare department have said that no adenovirus cases have been detected in Nagaland so far, as per the data available, but medical experts are of the opinion that the presence of the virus can’t be ruled out till it is proven otherwise through lab tests. Doctors say that cases of viral infection among children have surged in the state and it could be due to H1N1 or H3N2. Though not confirmed, the fear seems to hold water as vulnerable groups susceptible to the infection are children below the age of five and the elderly. There is also room for fear among the public with both H3N2 and adenovirus cases being reported in the neighbouring state of Assam. While there is no need to panic, the state government should take clue from instances of children below five years of age landing in the ICUs in other states and take precautionary measures to prevent a possible outbreak of viral infections. For this, the Health department should find a way to speed up testing to determine whether it is a case of COVID-19, H3N2, H1N1 or adenovirus as these diseases share several similar symptoms like fever, cough, body ache, difficulty in breathing, wheezing, cold, sore throat and pneumonia. The concerned authorities should also make testing readily accessible to the public at a nominal charge like during the COVID-peak time to contain the spread of the virus.
Besides surveillance and sensitisation from the part of the government, it is equally important for the public to monitor their health, take tests and seek medical help from doctors. While flu caused by H3N2 virus is preventable through vaccination, there is specific treatment for adenovirus but over-the-counter medicines help relieve symptoms, according to medical experts. However, doctors have cautioned against consumption of such medicines without medical check-up as it can have severe side effects, especially on children. The Indian Medical Association has also warned against use of antibiotics to treat viral infections, pointing out that it can lead to antibiotic resistance in users, which has become one of the most urgent public health problems today. People should heed the advice of medical practitioners and avoid self-medication. To prevent the spread of viral infections, experts have recommended citizens to maintain personal hygiene, wash hands properly, avoid touching mouth and nose, wear face mask and avoid overcrowded places. It should not be a problem to follow these preventive measures as these are just COVID-appropriate behaviour, some of which have become a way of life. Taking precaution is key during health crisis.