H3N2 Influenza A Virus Outbreak Alert

The Ghana Health Service is on high alert following a confirmation of an outbreak of H3N2 virus in some schools in the Eastern region.

Influenza 11 01

The Ghana Health Service is on high alert following a confirmation of an outbreak of H3N2 virus in some schools in the Eastern region.

H3N2 influenza A is a contagious airborne viral infection with an incubation period of about two days, but ranges from one to four days.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Cough and runny nose
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Possibly Diarrhoea

Epidemiology

All age groups can be affected but there are groups that are more at risk than others.

People at greater risk of severe disease or complications when infected are: pregnant women, children under 59 months, the elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions (such as chronic cardiac, pulmonary, renal, metabolic, neurodevelopmental, liver or hematologic diseases) and individuals with immunosuppressive conditions (such as HIV/AIDS, receiving chemotherapy or steroids, or malignancy).

Health care workers are at high risk acquiring influenza virus infection due to increased exposure to the patients and risk further spread particularly to vulnerable individuals.

In terms of transmission, seasonal influenza spreads easily, with rapid transmission in crowded areas including schools and nursing homes. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets containing viruses (infectious droplets) are dispersed into the air and can spread up to one meter, and infect persons in close proximity who breathe these droplets in. The virus can also be spread by hands contaminated with influenza viruses.

In temperate climates, seasonal epidemics occur mainly during winter, while in tropical regions, influenza may occur throughout the year, causing outbreaks more irregularly.

Management

Patients that are not from a high-risk group should be managed with symptomatic treatment and are advised, if symptomatic, to stay home in order to minimize the risk of infecting others in the community. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms of influenza such as fever. Patients should monitor themselves to detect if their condition deteriorates and seek medical attention Patients that are known to be in a group at high risk for developing severe or complicated illness, should be treated with antivirals in addition to symptomatic treatment as soon as possible

Things to avoid

(Some foods can make your symptoms worse)

  • Sugary foods and drinks
  • Caffeinated drinks like coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Greasy and oily foods
  • Milk and milk products

Prevention and precautions

  • Vaccination
  • Regular hand washing and use of sanitizers
  • Good respiratory hygiene – covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, using tissues and disposing of them correctly
  • Early self-isolation of those feeling unwell, feverish and having other symptoms of influenza
  • Avoiding close contact with sick people
  • Avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth
  • Drink plenty of water and other liquids
  • Stay home and get lots of sleep and rest
  • Drink Fruit juice and chicken soup
  • Take in hot tea with lime juice and honey to boost your immune system
  • Visit the nearest health centre