Srinagar, Nov 16: As the cold weather sets in, Kashmir is witnessing a significant surge in flu cases, with hospitals and medical facilities reporting an increase in patients seeking treatment.
Hospital authorities note that children and the elderly are the most affected demographics, leading to a spike in respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and body ache.
Doctors from prominent medical institutions in Kashmir like SKIMS, SMHS, and CD Hospital have reported a substantial rise in cases of infections.
President Doctor Association of Kashmir (DAK) and an influenza expert Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan attributes the increase to the dominance of influenza viruses, particularly H3N2 and H1N1, with H3N2 being the dominant strain.
He emphasised the importance of vaccination as the primary defence against viruses.
“Hospitals, including SMHS, have been conducting tests, and most results confirm influenza viruses. The influenza surge is affecting both young and elderly individuals, with severe pneumonia cases requiring oxygen and intensive care, including ventilator support,” Dr Hassan said.
The resurgence of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is also notable, particularly affecting young children and posing a potential threat to infants and older adults.
Dr Rafi Jan, former HOD at SKIMS and a professor at GMC, highlighted the “aggressive nature of non-COVID flu, linking it to environmental factors such as pollution and dusty roads in Kashmir. Individuals with pre-existing conditions like COPD and asthma are urged to take extra precautions”.
Dr Jan emphasised the need to isolate individuals displaying flu symptoms, particularly advocating for the exclusion of children from schools to prevent further transmission.
He recommended separating them from the elderly and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions within their households.
Directorate of Health Services (DHSK) spokesman in Kashmir, Dr Mir Mushtaq emphasised the need for precautionary measures similar to those practised during the COVID pandemic.
“Hospitals in Kashmir are witnessing a surge in patients seeking treatment for flu symptoms. Though it is not something which is a health concern, preventive measures are a must,” he said.
Dr Mushtaq recommended the use of masks, maintaining distance, and adhering to coughing etiquette. “Additionally, parents are advised to keep symptomatic children at home to prevent potential outbreaks,” he said.
As the flu season intensifies, health authorities and medical professionals are urging the public to prioritise preventive measures and vaccinations to curb the spread of respiratory infections.