It is an acute highly communicable disease of the upper respiratory tract. In short form it is known as ‘Flu’. Influenza tends to spread very rapidly. This is a worldwide infection and causes local or widespread epidemics and pandemics.
It affects people of all ages and both sexes and affects millions of persons every year.
It is caused by a filterable influenza virus which has three strains namely type A, B & C. Type A causes the most severe type of infection while type C tends to be the mildest.
Mode of Spread:
The influenza virus is present in the nasal secretions and the sputum of the patient. The infection is transmitted from one person to another by
(i) Direct contact
(ii) Droplet infection, and
(iii) Through finites recently contaminated with the virus.
It is short and varies from 1-2 days. Immunity is also very short which ranges from 6-8 months.
Signs and Symptoms:
It is characterised by sudden onset of fever, chill, headache, pain in the limbs and back, sore throat and cough. There is inflammation of the respiratory and gastro-intestinal tract with vomiting. The fever may rise upto 104°F which persists for about 3-4 days. If proper care of the patient is not taken it may lead to some common complications like pneumonia, bronchitis and ear infections which make ‘Flu’ dangerous.
There is no specific treatment for influenza. Antiviral drugs like amantadine or simantidine in a dose of 100 mg twice a day may be given for 3-5 days for the prevention and treatment of influenza.
For the prevention of influenza following measures should be adopted:
(i) Isolate the suspected cases.
(ii) During illness avoid meeting people for one week.
(iii) Avoid going to overcrowded places.
(iv) Body should be protected from chills by wearing sufficient warm clothes.
(v) Face mask should be used while attending a patient.
(vi) The clothes, beddings, fomites and room used by the patient should be thoroughly disinfected.
(vii) Sneezing, spitting and coughing in public places should be avoided.
(viii) Saline gargles should be regularly done.
(ix) Perform regular light exercise, keep fit, take nourishing food, avoid fatigue and chills, and keep in a well ventilated room.