(Common name: Flu)
Influenza is a viral disease with global distribution and is characterized by sudden onset of fever, malaise, joint pains, running nose, and infection of the throat, nasal passages, respiratory passages, and the lungs
It is estimated that if influenza were not there, the annual saving to the US alone will be in the range of US$ 71-167 billion per year while on a global scale the number of lives saved every year could be between 250, 000 and 500, 000
Influenza has a worldwide distribution.
It is a highly infectious viral illness that spreads within communities in a matter of days and weeks. It is estimated that about 5-15% of population gets infected by influenza every year. The highest mortality occurs in the elderly and high-risk groups.
The structure of influenza virus continues to undergo constant changes thereby making it extremely difficult to design a vaccine that will cover all variants of the virus. This explains why a new influenza vaccine has to be recommended every year.
The virus is transmitted from person to person by way of air droplets infection carried by coughing sneezing and talking as well as by and hand transmission and other forms of close association.
There are effective antiviral agents available to check influenza but vaccination has been proved to be the best measure to prevent disease.
Avian influenza is the counterpart of influenza seen in birds and has the risk of certain varieties spreading from the dead or alive birds to human beings. In some cases, avian influenza has potential to cause serious complications.
Individuals in following settings need to take extra precautions against influenza.
- Healthcare setups
- Old-age homes
The following conditions predispose an individual to high risk due to influenza
- Children of the age group 6 months to 5 years
- Elderly population above 65 years of age
- Chronic visceral diseases
- Healthcare providers
Most healthy adults are capable of infecting others beginning a day before the appearance of first symptoms and up to a week after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time. Therefore, an individual with influenza should avoid social encounters and stay away from non-infected person especially the children and the aged. It is desirable for such an individual to stay home for at least a day after the fever is settled. Use of nasal masks and avoidance of handshakes should be encouraged.
Hand washing should be encouraged
Avoid touching nose, eyes, and mouth
All surfaces at home, school, and work that have been used by suspected influenza patients need to be disinfected
One should follow recommendations as they apply to fluid diet, physical activity, nourishing food, and sleep.
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Dr Vinay Kumar
Senior Consultant Dermatologist
+91-93 199 299 00
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