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The Influenza Virus: A Serious Threat to Public Health

1. Introduction

Viruses are an integral part of our life. The influenza virus which is not dangerous by itself, but the complications can cause different kinds of complications and even death. The 1918 flu pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu, was an Influenza A virus pandemic that took place from January 1918 to December 1920. An estimated 50 million to 100 million people were killed worldwide, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. Here we will try to understand what is this virus which causes so much trouble every year and what can we do about it.

2. What is Influenza?

Influenza, commonly called “the flu,” is a highly contagious viral infection that occurs most often in the late fall and winter in the United States. Although influenza activity can begin as early as October and continue through May, peak activity typically occurs between December and February. Each year, on average, 5% to 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications; and about 36,000 people die from influenza-related causes.

3. How does the Influenza Virus Work?

The influenza virus attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. The main ingredients in flu vaccines (called antigens) are killed viruses that can’t infect you. When these killed viruses are injected into your body or inhaled, they stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies against the real (not killed) virus. Antibodies are special proteins that recognize and latch onto specific viruses and help destroy them. After you’re vaccinated, it takes about two weeks for your body to develop antibodies against the flu virus in the vaccine.

4. The Different Kinds of Influenza

There are three types of influenza viruses: A, B and C. Type A viruses are further broken down into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). There are 18 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 11 different neuraminidase subtypes currently circulating among animals worldwide. All three types of influenza viruses circulate among birds all year long in many parts of the world and can infect a wide variety of other animals as well as humans.

5. Symptoms of Influenza

Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly within a few hours to a couple of days after being infected with the influenza virus. Symptoms tend to be more severe than those caused by a common cold and include fever (usually 100°F to 103°F in adults and often even higher in children), headache, extreme tiredness (can be sudden), dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches or pain (often severe), nausea (more common in children), vomiting (more common in children), diarrhea (more common in children), abdominal pain (more common in children),and dehydration due to loss of fluids through feverish sweating or vomiting or both.

6. Treatment for Influenza

For most people, recovery from influenza is a matter of getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the-counter medications for fever reduction and relief from muscle aches and pains such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Antiviral medications are also available and can be prescribed by your doctor to help shorten the duration of your illness if you’re at high risk for influenza-related complications or become sick with the flu.

7. Influenza as a Seasonal Virus

Seasonal influenza activity typically begins to increase in October and peaks between December and February, though activity can last as late as May. In the United States, influenza activity most commonly occurs in the winter months, but influenza viruses can circulate year-round.

8. Influenza as a Pandemic Threat

While seasonal influenza pandemics are not uncommon, occurring on average about three times per century, the 1918 flu pandemic was unusually severe. An estimated 50 million to 100 million people were killed worldwide, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. The 1918 flu pandemic was caused by an H1N1 virus that was closely related to a virus that caused a milder pandemic in 1889. The 1918 virus was unusual in that it appeared to infect people of all ages, including young adults who are typically less susceptible to severe influenza illness. It’s not clear why the 1918 flu pandemic was so much more severe than other influenza pandemics, but several factors may have contributed including:
-The virulence of the virus
-The lack of immunity among people of all ages
-The rapid spread of the virus around the world due to increased travel

9. Conclusion

Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands of people die from flu-related complications. While the best way to prevent influenza is to get vaccinated every year, there are also things you can do to reduce your risk of getting sick with the flu or spreading it to others if you do get sick:
-Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough
-Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
-Stay away from people who are sick
-If you are sick, stay home from work or school

FAQ

Influenza is a viral infection that can cause severe respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue.

The influenza virus spreads through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva or mucus, from an infected person. It can also spread through contact with objects or surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus.

There are different types of influenza viruses, which are classified according to their surface proteins (hemagglutinin and neuraminidase). There are four main types of influenza viruses: A, B, C, and D.

We get more colds and flu in winter because people tend to spend more time indoors in close proximity to each other, which makes it easier for the virus to spread. Additionally, our immune systems may be weaker during winter due to colder temperatures and lack of sunlight exposure.

Influenza can be prevented by getting vaccinated every year and by practicing good hygiene habits such as washing your hands often and avoiding close contact with sick people

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