- Influenza is caused by a virus that attacks the upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, bronchi, sometimes even the lungs).
- Infection usually lasts for a week.
- Symptoms: headache, fever, non-productive (dry) cough, sore throat, rhinitis, myalgia, severe malaise.
- Usually recovery will take 2 weeks. However this is serious in the very young, the elderly & those with medical conditions like lung diseases, diabetes, cancert, kidney &/heart problems.
- Influenza epidemics is one of the most widespread on Earth & cause significant economic drawbacks (hospital & other healthcare costs, loss of production)
- Annually 5-15% of the population are affected by this disease. In tropical countries, this frequency is higher.
- There are 2 groups of the currently circulating influenza viruses in humans: A & B
- Group A has 2 subtypes: A(H3N2) & A(H1N1), the former is associated with most deaths.
- The virus is identified by 2 different antigens (proten components on the surface of the virus): haemagglutinin (H) & neuraminidase (N) - now you know where the H & C come from
- The genetic makeup allows frequent minor genetic changes (antigenic shifts/mutations): requires annual reformulation of influenza vaccines.
The H5N1 strain
- Easily passed from person to person via droplets/small particles excreted when infected individuals cough/sneeze (through air).
- The virus enters the body through the nose/throat.
- Symptoms develop within 1-4 days.
- Heightened infection frequency in crowded environments, cold & dry weather.
- Contain trace levels of egg protein: cannot be used by individuals allergic to egg proteins
- Effectiveness depends on: age; immunocompetence of the vaccine recipient; the degree of similarity between the viruses in the vaccine & those in circulation.
Treatment: Antiviral drugs (amantadine & rimantadine)
Needles can help you...
Definitely not a disease to take lightly. Always drink enough glasses of water per day, plus eat healthy food. It's easy to take things for granted when we're hale & healthy, but we do need to be cautious to be in the best of health :)