11.12.2017 Feature Article

Know About The Influenza

Know About The Influenza
11.12.2017 LISTEN

Influenza is an acute infection caused by any of the three influenza viruses, A, B and C.

Influenza infections occur throughout the year in the tropics, in colder countries, influenza occurs from October to May.

Influenzas are airborne viral infections. Human influenza viruses are divided into three types, A, B and C (type C infection is very rare).

Type A viruses have poultry and waterfowls, mainly ducks and geese, as natural reservoirs. The viruses are shed in their oral secretions and feces

Type B primarily cause diseases in humans.
Type C is rare.
On the lipid cell walls of the influenza viruses are 2 proteins antigens: H(hemagglutinins) and N (neuraminidases). The H antigens help the influenza viruses to attach to other cells to help to cause and spread diseases, The N components help with their detachments. The viruses are classified based on the type of H and N proteins on their cell walls

Influenza subtype H5N1 is known as Avian Flu. They are found in chickens and ducks but highly virulent in humans.

H1N1(Swine flu) caused world-wide infection in 2009.

Following exposure to the virus, it may take 2-5 days for persons to develop symptoms. The symptoms can last for 2 weeks and more.

The signs and symptoms include:
High Fever
Muscular ache
The illness usually starts as common cold with runny nose, sore throat and cough.

Younger kids may have pink eye, abdominal pain and vomiting.

The Lungs:
The complications associated with influenzas include:

Viral Pneumonia
Secondary Bacterial pneumonia
Bleeding into the lungs
Respiratory failure
Involvement of heart muscles can lead to cardiac arrhythmia and Heart failure

Death, usually from multiple organ failure
Influenza symptoms may last for 2 weeks
Supportive care with rest and increased fluid intake. Take Paracetamol, for fever and bodily aches. Children, and those less than 16 years of age, should never take aspirin, since taking aspirin in children with influenza can cause brain and liver damage and possible death.

Cough medicine could be taken for dry cough
Medications work, only when given early, that is within the first 2 days of onset of illness, just before the virus get foothold on the body. Early antiviral medication decreases duration of illness, and may reduce the influenza-related complications.

Treatment is recommended for those diagnosed with the disease and those suspected to have influenza symptoms that are severe or could lead to hospital admission, and for any individual at risk for influenza-related complications.

The list of individuals at risk for influenza-related complications includes:

The very young, less than 2 years of age,
The Elderly (>64 years of age)
Those with chronic conditions (Heart, Lung, Liver, Kidney diseases, sickle cell disease)

Pregnant women
Very obese persons
Impaired immunity
Oseltamivir (inhibits the N viral proteins) has been used for treating influenza A and B viruses. It is usually taken twice daily for 5 days

(Zanamivir could be used but not in those with pre-existing lung diseases like Asthma)

Influenza is transmitted airborne, so frequent hand washing with soap and tap/flowing water for a minimum of 15 seconds, together with Sinus rinses with salt water, 2-3 times daily helps to reduce risk of getting infected.

Who requires influenza vaccination?
Annual vaccination for everyone at risk for influenza-related complications, including pregnant women, and their household members

Students and dormitory residents
Residents of long-term care facilities
Anyone wishing to reduce risk of influenza
Avian Flu prevention
H1NI virus evolved from combination of swine, avian and human influenza viruses. In 2009, Pregnant women had the highest death rates, and, in contrast with other influenza viruses, population aged 5-59 years was associated with more severe disease than the very young and very old

Rapid quarantine and destruction of infected birds, and vigilance for respiratory illness among poultry personnel is important.

Avian influenza infections are very dangerous and require prompt hospitalization at tertiary care facilities, where critical-care and infectious diseases specialists are available for consultation and management of the avian influenza infection.


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