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Influenza Virus

Influenza Virus

Influenza (flu) - is a contagious respiratory illness that is transmitted by airborne droplets. It was first mentioned in 1889, when the world's first epidemic was recorded. However, term “influenza” was clearly defined only in the 1930s. Today, there are more than 2,000 variants of influenza, which are characterized by antigenic variation.

Many people mistakenly refer to the “influenza” any acute respiratory disease, or A.R.V.I. (acute respiratory viral infection), but in fact, in addition to the flu, other infections belonging to A.R.V.I. are now widespread. Scientists are actively studying the influenza virus, highlighting several subtypes, which are particularly dangerous to people in terms of the epidemic. This virus appears spherical in shape. The core comprises a single-stranded negative RNA strand, which is composed of 8 fragments encoding 10 viral proteins.

Influenza A viruses are capable of infecting people and some animals (pigs, ferrets, horses, birds). This type can cause epidemics and pandemics, whether moderate or severe, swine flu, bird flu).

Influenza B viruses are found only in humans, more often in children. This type does not cause epidemics and pandemics, mostly local outbreaks.

So far, influenza C viruses have been understudied. It is known that type C as well as type B infects only humans and does not cause severe illness. The majority of patients affected by this type have only mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Children with a weakened immune system are more likely to become infected. Most often, outbreaks of this virus type coincide with epidemics caused by type A.

The influenza virus, as a rule, is highly resistant to low temperatures. It is more common in autumn and winter. The virus may be destroyed by exposure to high temperatures of 50-60є within several minutes. Flu symptoms

Flu symptoms are pronounced and usually come on suddenly. They tend to develop quickly and are characterized primarily by an increase in body temperature to 39-40° C. The symptoms include high fever, weakness, pain in the forehead and temples, eyeballs, body aches and excessive sweating. The patient immediately loses his/her appetite and the sleep gets worse. High fever during the first few days of illness can cause hallucinations and delirium. One of the earliest signs is that the illness does not immediately affect the respiratory tract. At first, a dry cough may occur, hoarseness and a sense of throat irritation. Also a slight nasal discharge.

If the case is especially severe, then ecchymosis and nose bleeds may occur at the peak of fever.

On the third - fourth day, the body temperature is more stable, but is still not normal. During this period the affection of the respiratory tract becomes more evident what is characterized by an increase in coughing, throat swelling, nasal congestion. The flu symptoms may be confused with other acute respiratory infections, however, we should remember that if it is really the flu, the treatment should be initiated immediately, because the disease is quite insidious and can cause a lot of different complications.

The flu symptoms may occur in people of any age. It is not necessary that they will occur in a specific order. If the virus is of type B or C, it is quite possible that the sick person will not feel too bad. But the treatment involves complete rest for a few days - when the virus may have rather severe manifestations.

Influenza prevention

Influenza prevention is possible and even necessary. Especially in a period of rapid spread of infection - in late autumn, winter and early spring. The prevention principle is to strengthen your immune system and fight off any viruses. For some types of influenza special vaccines have been developed, that can reduce the risk of catching the flu for a period of 1-2 months. However, in any case, there are many viral types, therefore, it is better to adhere to specific rules during epidemics.

Since flu viruses can pass through the air, avoid close contact with people who are sick. If at your place of work or study the epidemic begins to spread, it is worth to take a brief leave for your own safety, or wear a face mask, otherwise there is no guarantee that you will not get infected.

The second advice is to increase the natural forces of the body or strengthen the immune system. To fight off the flu virus the body expends tremendous amount of energy, so you should gradually replenish its natural resources. This can be done either using special medicinal products that are taken as the prevention of influenza, and as a treatment, and home remedies, namely more vitamin C, garlic, onions and a warm drink with honey or raspberry jam.

The third advice - always clean the respiratory system. This can be done at home, by washing the nasal passages with a special compound or simple solution of sea salt and water. During the acute epidemic you should irrigate the nose at least 2-3 times a day.

Before going out on the street or in a public place, lubricate inside of the nostrils with oxolinic ointment and do not forget about the face mask. This will help protect against fast infection.


If you feel the first symptoms of the flu - namely, fever, headache, cough, or sore throat, immediately begin to take steps to avoid the development of moderate to severe illness. First of all, drink plenty of fluid: any hot drink (tea, fruit-drink, Borjomi, milk and honey). The patient should be placed in a separate room to minimize the contact with other family members. If possible, keep the sick person isolated until the body temperature drops and external symptoms disappear. Of course, it is necessary to allocate a separate tableware, personal hygiene products (towels, handkerchiefs), clothing and bed linen to the patient.

Those, who prefer the folk or traditional medicine to treat the flu, claim that the answer to the question "how to treat the flu" is "without taking any medicaments", but doctors say that it is necessary to combine both methods, otherwise it is impossible to reduce the body temperature in the acute phase, and this may lead to certain heart, lung, kidney and others complications. The medicinal drugs prescribed for flu include rimantadine, which is taken in moderate or severe cases in 0.3 g on the first day and in 0.05 g on the next day, also oxolinic ointment and leukocyte interferon. The latter should be used as nasal drops, after instilling a vasodilating drug to achieve the best results.

To lower the body temperature and to get rid of fever, use traditional medicine - paracetamol, aspirin, in severe cases make an intramuscular injection of dipyrone with diphenylhydramine in given proportions.

Of course, one can talk for hours on how to treat the flu, but each case is different and requires a unique approach.


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