6893679-digital-illustration-of-influenza-virus-in-color-backgroundInfluenza or The Flu is caused by a “Influenza virus which is a RNA virus that is seen in humans, birds, and some mammals.

Orthomyxoviruses are the grouping of viruses that make up the terminology “The Flu”.

Can be mistaken for the common cold – symptoms can be somewhat similar – often in the first stages.

The Common cold is also caused by a virus – but of a different type.

There are 3-5 million cases of the flu worldwide every year with 200,000 plus deaths associated.

In years of severe cases – that number can increase substantially.

 

Symptoms-of-influenzaSymptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Sore Throat
  • Night sweats
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pains
  • Dyspnea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Can lead to pneumonia

Results

  • Every year approximately 36,000 deaths are attributed to the flu in the United States alone.
  • Almost ten times that amount are hospitalized

Transmission

The flu is transmitted or passed from one person to another.

It is transmitted through the air by coughing or sneezing.

The aerosols or nasal mucus contains the actual virus.

Contact with either the aerosols or mucus – directly or indirectly can lead to transmission. (This means touching the same surface of someone who had the flu).

Three main ways to spread

1.) Direct Transmission – sneezing or coughing into face of another person

2.) Airborne – inhaling of aerosols of infected person.

3.) Contact of contaminated surfaces or personal contact – then the person rubs their eyes, rubs their nose, or wipes their mouth.

**** The virus can remain on door nobs, counters, light switches, and other places several hours to a few days depending on the surface.

Sunlight, detergents, soaps, and disinfectants can inactivate the virus.

The individual is “infectious” the day before symptoms actually appear.

They will continue to be infectious for seven days or longer.

 

Orthomyxoviruses Virus Types

1.) Influenza A Virus

  • Found in humans
  • Typically the cause virus for pandemic deaths

2.) Influenza B Virus

  • Affects humans and seals
  • Usually does not cause a pandemics

3.) Influenza C Virus

  • Rare when compared to A & B
  • Can be severe and is seen in epidemics
  • Vaccines are not done against type C

4.) Isavirus

  • Is a viral disease of Atlantic Salmon
  • Does not cause human flu

5.) Thogotovirus

  • Is found in ticks in Europe and Africa
  • Does not cause human flu
  • Can cause sickness and encephalitis in humans though

Categories of Outbreaks

1.) Epidemics

  • Occurs when new cases of a disease are seen in a population
  • The strains are often slightly different than the previous year
  • Regarding the flu – occurs every year
  • Death still can occur – but not as widespread and severe as Pandemic

2.) Pandemic

  • This is a definition of a flu virus strain that affects a large portion of the human population
  • Is is seen throughout the world
  • The most serious in recent history occurred in 1918
  • Many people die as a result of the virus
  • In 1918 over 50 million people were killed as a result of the virus

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Vaccinations:

The yearly vaccine typically has antibodies and surface glycoproteins from a combination
of the strains of these viruses

  • It is referred to as the trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV)
  • It carries no risk of transmitting the disease
  • A vaccine for one year will often not protect you the following year
  • Some people become sick following their injection but it is not “from the injection”

Subtypes of the Influenza

  • Each set of viruses also has additional subtypes
  • Subtypes refer to slight differences in structure or genome

Influenza A

  • H1N1 – Caused Spanish Flu and also similar to Swine flu of 2009
  • H2N2 – Asian Flu
  • H3N2 – Hong Kong Flu
  • H5N1 – Bird Flu
  • H7N7, H1N2, H9N2, H7N3 and others

Influenza B

  • Has several strains

Influenza C

  • Has several strains

Other Flu outbreaks besides Human

  • Avian Flu
  • Dog Flu
  • Swine Flu
  • Horse Flu

Concerns

  • Changes or mutations of viruses can cause a virus that is typically seen in an animal that may start to affect humans

Examples include:

  • Avian Flu – 1999, 2003
  • Spanish Flu – Swine Flu – 1918, 2009
  • Asian Flu – Avian Flu – 1957-1958
  • Hong Kong Flu – Swine Flu – 1968 – 1969

Prevention

  • Limit touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover mouth when sneezing
  • Wash hands often
  • Influenza vaccination
  • Limit contact to those who are sic
  • If you become sick – limit your contact with others

Treatment

  • Influenza is a virus and antibiotics won’t help
  • Treat symptoms
  • Plenty of sleep
  • Increase fluid consumption

Medications

  • Cough Syrup
  • Tylenol for fever
  • Amantadine [Symmetrel] – for influenza Type A
  • Rimantadine [Flumadine] – for influenza Type B

When to go to see a medical profession or the Hospital?

  • Guidelines often vary
  • When having an extreme temperature 104 or above
  • Temperature of 102 for 3 plus days
  • Becomes increasingly difficult to breath
  • When dehydration is worse
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