Main modes of transmission and spread of influenza virus. Vaccination, risk groups, prevention and treatment of disease.

The flu is an acute viral infection that primarily affects the nose, throat, bronchi and, occasionally, lungs. Although healthy people the symptoms go away by themselves within one to two weeks, the influenza virus can cause complications and even death to people who fall into any of the risk groups. Influenza epidemics are repeated every year during the fall and winter in temperate regions. According to the World Health Organization, influenza causes 3 to 5 million severe cases worldwide and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths each year, depending on the virulence of the predominant strain.


Transmission and spread of flu

The Ministry of Health and Social Policy of Spain estimates the proportion of population affected during annual epidemics between 5 and 15% in large populations. HIV incidence is much higher in so-called closed populations, such as boarding schools or nursing homes, where it exceeds 50%. The flu virus is transmitted primarily by air via droplets of saliva and nasal secretions produced when an infected person talking, coughing or sneezing. The disease is spread when the virus comes into contact with the nose, throat or lungs of a healthy person.

The disease also may be transferred, although much less frequently, when a healthy person touches a surface that the virus is present and then puts his hand to the nose or mouth. ” The elevator buttons and locks on the doors have a higher risk of infection , “said Pilar Jiménez, Product & Market Manager South of the Swedish multinational cleaning products SCA Hygiene Products. Other areas highly susceptible to becoming Transmission routes include telephones, light switches, bells, keyboards and computer mice.

Flu Symptoms

The flu is characterized by sudden onset of high fever, muscle aches, weakness, headache, malaise, cough dry, sore throat and nasal congestion. Although symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for a common cold, the flu causes alterations are much more severe than a normal cold.

Some manifestations of influenza are common, but others are more common in certain age groups. For example, it is more common than respiratory difficulties arise or sputum production in the elderly. Among children, have higher incidence of otitis media and abdominal discomfort.

Vaccination, the best prevention

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the most effective way to prevent influenza illness and its consequences is vaccination. In healthy adults the flu shot can prevent between 70% and 90% of cases. When it comes to the elderly, the vaccine reduced severe cases and complications by 60% and deaths by 80%.

According to WHO, “the annual influenza epidemics can seriously affect all age groups, but at higher risk for complications of children under 2 years old, those over 65 and people of all ages with certain conditions, such as immunosuppression or chronic heart, lung, kidney, liver, blood or metabolic (eg diabetes). ” The Ministry of Health and Social Policy also recommends vaccination to other risk groups, such as people living in nursing homes or institutions or pregnant women from the second trimester.

Health and healthy lifestyle to prevent the spread

To prevent the spread of the disease and prevent infection, we recommend:

¤ Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing, preferably on toilet paper or disposable. Try not to sneeze into your hands (You should read it in the forearm or the inside of the elbow). The paper used must be thrown away immediately. It is important to wash hands thoroughly below.
¤ Wash hands with soap or alcohol gel frequently and carefully, for at least 20 seconds. Dry hands with single use towels or let air dry. It is especially necessary after traveling by public transport or when returning from the street.
¤ Aerate and ventilate rooms. This is especially important in offices, classrooms, college or in crowded places such as cafes.
¤ Sick people should avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to keep from spreading the disease.
¤ When handling food or working in a factory should not be rings or bracelets, or long hair and / or loose.
¤ Using tissues or toilet paper to blow your nose.
¤ Avoid kissing and close contact and sharing glasses, cutlery and other items that have been in contact with saliva or secretions.
¤ Cleaned more often the surfaces of furniture, doorknobs, light switches, etc.
Sleep well, drink plenty of water and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and snuff, as this way you can deal with potential contagion in better physical condition.
¤ People who exercise regularly are less susceptible to viral diseases like colds and flu, and that sporting activities help activate the immune system.
¤ Eating a healthy diet and eat foods such as legumes, nuts or honey, which enhance the production of defenses.

Treatment of influenza

Although there are currently four antiviral drugs against influenza viruses (amantadine, rimantadine, zanamivir and oseltamivir), its use is very limited. Treatment most common flu focuses on combating the symptoms. When a person falls ill, you should rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol or snuff and take medication to improve pain or fever. The flu is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not improve symptoms or hasten healing. Aspirin is not recommended for children or teenagers, as this may cause a rare syndrome, but serious, known as Reye Syndrome.