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Influenza

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WHAT IS IT?

Abstract

VOL: 99, ISSUE: 39, PAGE NO: 25

 

WHAT IS IT?
- Influenza, or flu, is caused by the influenza virus.

 


 

- The influenza virus was first identified in 1933.

 


 

- There are two main types: influenza A and influenza B.

 


 

- Influenza A usually causes a more severe illness than influenza B.

 


 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
There is sudden onset of symptoms. These include:

 


 

- Fever;

 


 

- Headache;

 


 

- Tiredness;

 


 

- Dry cough;

 


 

- Sore throat;

 


 

- Nasal congestion;

 


 

- Aches and pains.

 


 

TRANSMISSION
- Flu is spread from person to person by droplet infection dispersed by coughing, sneezing or talking.

 


 

- A single infected person can transmit the virus to a large number of susceptible individuals.

 


 

TREATMENT
- Rest.

 


 

- Drink plenty of liquids.

 


 

- Paracetamol or aspirin.

 


 

- Chlorpheniramine at night for congestion.

 


 

- Pseudoephedrine (if not hypertensive) for nasal congestion.

 


 

- Steam inhalations.

 


 

- Saline nose drops for babies (Johnson et al, 2003).

 


 

- Antiviral medicines are available on prescription and should be started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. They are not a substitute for immunisation (National Institute for Clinical Excellence, 2001).

 


 

INFLUENZA IMMUNISATION
- Each autumn, there is a national campaign offering flu vaccination to people who are at risk of serious illness should they catch flu. These include all patients who:

 


 

- Are over 65 years old;

 


 

- Have chronic respiratory disease;

 


 

- Have chronic heart disease;

 


 

- Have chronic renal failure;

 


 

- Have diabetes mellitus;

 


 

- Have suppressed immunity.

 


 

- Since 2000 flu vaccination has also been offered to all health care workers as a means of protecting patients from nosocomial infection (Harrison and Abbott, 2002).

 


 

IMMUNISATION COMPOSITION
- On 14 March 2003, the World Health Organization announced the composition of the 2003-2004 (Northern Hemisphere winter) immunisation. The vaccine will contain:

 


 

- An A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like virus;

 


 

- An A/Moscow/10/99 (H3N2)-like virus (the widely used vaccine strain is A/Panama/2007/99);

 


 

- A B/Hong Kong/330/2001 - a B Victoria-like virus;

 


 

- The H1N1 and H3N2 components are unchanged and are considered to provide good protection against the new influenza A H1N2 subtype.

 


 

COMPLICATIONS
- Most people who get flu will recover in one to two weeks, but some people will develop life-threatening complications.

 


 

- Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections can all be complications from flu.

 


 

- Flu infection can make chronic health problems worse.

 


 

DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS
- Mastitis in breastfeeding women even with only minimal symptoms.

 


 

- Malaria, especially with overseas travel in the last year.

 


 

- Meningitis, tell patients to return if symptoms worsen.

 


 

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