Recently, the Indian states of Karnataka and Haryana have reported Influenza A subtype H3N2 virus infection-related fatalities. Concerns have arisen regarding the rapid spread of this virus in the subcontinent, the cause of which has been attributed to the low atmospheric humidity and high concentrations of environmental pollution.
The infection manifests as flu, and such cases have seen a surge in the cities. Dr. Ajay Aggarwal, Director Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Noida, said that the low temperature and low-humid conditions, particularly in the Delhi-NCR region, have enhanced viral transmissions. Further, the high pollutant level has exacerbated occurrences of the associated complications, such as respiratory infections. The post-COVID immunity decline among the population at large is also to blame.
According to Dr. Aggarwal, particulate matter circulating the air renders the lungs more susceptible to severe viral infections. These are tiny particles – both liquids and solids, that float in the atmosphere, which can be inhaled by the human respiratory system and enter the bloodstream.
Researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health have pointed out that chronic environmental pollutant exposure is liable to incur cumulative damage and lead to more severe responses to viral infections like SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza A subtype H3N2. Air pollution alone has led to an 11% rise in COVID-19-related mortality rate.
Previous evidence has confirmed the induction of oxidative stress and respiratory system damage from air pollutant exposures.
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