Following the outbreak of influenza in some parts of the country, a new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted different means of managing the disease, which most people commonly mistake for common cold.
Although studies have shown that each flu has it season, the apex health institution report revealed that seasonal Influenza kills up to 650 000 people per year, which makes it imperative for people to know when to seek medical attention once Influenza sets in.
Influenza (or flu) is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection, which is characterized by the abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and a non-productive cough.
While Influenza may not always be thought of by most people as a serious illness – the symptoms of headaches, runny nose, cough and muscle pain can make people confuse it with a heavy cold. That is why WHO recommends influenza vaccinations to people with vulnerable immune system, especially to protect young children, older people, and pregnant women.
To curtail influenza mortality rate across the globe, the WHO and partners are developing a renewed Global Influenza Strategy to be launched this year. This will support countries in developing seasonal influenza prevention and control capacities. These national efforts, in turn, will build greater global preparedness for the next pandemic.
According to the report,” the strategy focuses on three priorities, strengthening pandemic preparedness, expanding seasonal influenza prevention and control and research and innovation. Research and innovation includes improved modelling and forecasting of influenza outbreaks, along with the development of new vaccines, including a possible universal influenza vaccine that would work against all influenza virus strains”.
However, developing and distributing a vaccine during a pandemic could take up to a year. This means that non-pharmaceutical measures – the same as those needed to stop seasonal flu – will be critical. Some of these are actions that individuals can take, including staying home when sick and washing hands frequently.
“Another pandemic caused by a new influenza virus is a certainty. But we do not know when it will happen, what virus strain it will be and how severe the disease will be,” said Dr Wenqing Zhang, the manager of WHO’s Global Influenza Programme. “This uncertainty makes influenza very different to many other pathogens,” she said.
With 2018 marking the 100th anniversary of one of the most catastrophic public health crises in modern history, which was the 1918 influenza pandemic known colloquially as “Spanish flu”, the WHO has highlighted different methods to prevent and manage flu below:
5 WAYS TO AVOID GETTING THE FLU
- Get the flu vaccine every year – even if you do get the flu, your symptoms will be milder
- Avoid being around people who are sick
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth – germs are most likely to enter your body this way
- Clean and disinfect surfaces if you are sharing a home with someone who is sick
- Wash your hands regularly
FIVE TOP THINGS TO DO IF YOU HAVE FLU
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Wash your hands regularly
- Drink plenty of water and rest
- If you have a vulnerable immune system, you may need antivirals
- Don’t take antibiotics – they don’t work against cold or flu viruses