Influenza Virus
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The illness that is more commonly termed as flu is medically termed as influenza. It is a viral infection, which is a most common occurrence during the winter months. This can cause a list of illnesses like fever, headache, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. Apart from this daily harmless group of illnesses, influenza can also cause more dangerous complications.

Influenza is a highly contagious disease, and people coming in close contact with the patient suffering from influenza is more likely to catch the viral infection.

This is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae (the influenza viruses). The name influenza has been derived from the Italian influenza, meaning “influence”. Though it is most of the time confused with common cold and fever, this is actually a more serious disease.

Though this virus can cause infection anytime of the year, it is more susceptible to cause infection during the winter months.

Types of Influenza Virus

There are three main types of influenza virus. They are as follows:

Genus Influenazavirus A

Genus Influenzavirus B

Genus Influenzavirus C

Influenza A and C virus’ generally infects multiple species, while influenza B virus exclusively infects human beings. The natural hosts for a large variety of influenza A viruses are the wild aquatic birds. Sometimes it happens that viruses are transmitted to other species and thereby cause devastating outbreaks in domestic poultry or give rise to human influenza pandemics. The pathogens causing human pandemic deaths ae as follows:

H1N1 caused Spanish Flu.

H2N2 caused Asian Flu.

H3N2 caused Hong Kong Flu.

H5N1 is a pandemic threat in the 2007–08 flu season.

H7N7 has unusual zoonotic potential.

H1N2 is endemic in humans and pigs.

Influenza B virus is exclusively a human pathogen and it is not as common as influenza A. The only other animal who is susceptible to influenza B infection is the seal.

Causes of Influenza Virus

Influenza is a viral infection. It is highly contagious and is passed on when people breathe in infected liquid droplets containing the influenza virus that have been sneezed or coughed into the air by the influenza patient, or when they touch objects that have already been contaminated with the virus.

Symptoms of Influenza Virus

Influenza virus attacks a person, and the symptoms come and leave quickly, but that leaves the patient weak for several weeks.

The symptoms of influenza generally includes:

Body aches, especially in the joints and throat

Coughing and sneezing

Extreme cold and fever

Fatigue

Headache

Irritated and watering eyes

Nasal congestion

Reddened eyes, skin (especially of the face), mouth, throat, and nose

Abdominal pain (in children with influenza B)

People who need vaccination

There are people who are more prone to be infected by influenza virus, who needs vaccination. They include:

Everyone over the age of 65 years

People of any age with lung diseases, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes

People with lowered immunity

Anyone living in a residential or nursing home

Treatment of Influenza Virus

Since antibiotics are of no help in influenza, the possible ways of treating influenza are as follows:

plenty of rest as the body uses a lot of energy fighting infections

Keep warm

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

Take hot water with lemon, ginger and honey to relieve sore throat

Take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines

Contact the doctor

Advice

The following steps can somewhat save you to a great extent from influenza:

Keep your immune system strong

Healthy diet

Lots of fluid

Exercise

Rest

RelaxationStop smoking

Avoid getting contaminated

Get vaccinated

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