Influenza Facts

Caused by RNA viruses, Influenza or commonly referred to as 'Flu' is an infectious disease, which infects people all around the world. It mostly affects mammals and birds and is a communicable disease, which means it can transmit from one infected person to other. It is usually transmitted by air, direct contact, coughing, sneezing, contact with infected surfaces and getting in close proximity to secretions of infected birds or mammals. During the seasonal epidemics, influenza takes millions of life. Around 30 000 people die each year from influenza in United States.

There are three types of the influenza viruses:

• Influenza virus A
• Influenza virus B
• Influenza virus C

Influenza is divided into 4 sub-types, depending upon the species it is infecting:

• Avian Influenza
• Canine Influenza
• Equine Influenza
• Swine Influenza

When a person gets infected with an influenza virus, coughing, sneezing, chills, fever, muscle pain headache, fatigue and discomfort are some common symptoms. Influenza also leads to pneumonia, if the condition of the infected person worsens. Common cold is a part of influenza symptoms, but influenza is much more severe and stern than common cold. Influenza is fatal. Vomiting, nausea and fatigue are some very common symptoms of influenza in children.

To date, influenza outbreak has been given the name of pandemic three times in the history - it happened recently in the year 2009. Influenza outbreak was reported in the year 2008 in west Bengal, India.

Natives of mostly developed countries and people living near poultry farms are given vaccinations for influenza. The common influenza vaccinations are: Pandemrix, ACAM-FLU-A, Optaflu, Live attenuated (FluMist), and Influvac.

People who are suffering from influenza are usually treated or cured by giving Amantadine, Rimantadine, Vitamin D, Laninamivir, Arbidol, Peramivir, and Oseltamivir. Anti viral drugs with neuraminidase inhibitors are prescribed for influenza treatment.

It has been reported that, the virus which causes influenza becomes inactivated on exposure to sunlight, detergents, and soaps. Thus maintaining personal hygiene and washing hands from time to time are a few precautionary measures, which are really effective.

People who are suffering from flu are advised to start consuming lots of water, take complete rest and avoid having tobacco and alcohol. Children suffering from it must not be given aspirin or any similar medicine because its consumption in flu can lead to Reye's syndrome. By maintaining proper hygiene and staying a little away from those who are infected from it can help in reducing its spread.