Influenza Virus: Types, Symptoms, Risks and Vaccine

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Influenza viruses is a respiratory infection caused by a variety of influenza viruses. It is a contagious infection that can easily spread from person to person and stays in your body for 24 hours. This virus causes infection in your lungs, nose and throat. This infection is very different from that of a common cold and many other respiratory infections.

An affected person can easily spread this virus by just a sneeze. Medically speaking, a sneeze by a infected person can help spread this virus in the form of tiny droplets of respiratory fluids that are dismissed to the air. This means that if anyone is standing next to you or around you, there are high chances that they may get infected.

Influenza Virus

The worst part of this virus is that it can surface around you for the next 24 hours. This means that the flu can spread when someone touches doorknobs, telephones or even taps in the house. The impact of this disease can be felt in a public surrounding where an infected person sneezes and this will immediately affect his/ her surroundings. So if your child is suffering from influenza virus, it is advised that you don’t send them to school until the virus is gone.

However, a person suffering from influenza virus will be able to recover within 1 or 2 weeks, but if left untreated, an infected person can develop pneumonia. Questions like what can be done to curb this deadly virus and how can it be treated will be further discussed in this article. Before we get into the different types of influenza viruses, let’s understand what is this virus.

What is Influenza Virus?

Influenza virus is a deadly infection that affects your nose, throat and lungs. It is considered to be deadly because it can affect people immediately, especially from their surroundings. This virus is known as the flu, but it is very different from that of stomach flu that causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

In some cases, influenza can resolve on its own, but its complications are deadly. People who are more prone to getting affected by this virus are children under the age group of 2 to 5 years. It also affects adults who are older than 65 years of age. This virus can also affect pregnant women before or after pregnancy and people who have a weak immune system, people suffering from heart disease, asthma, kidney and liver diseases.

Types of Influenza Viruses:

Influenza viruses enter your body usually through mucus membranes of your eyes, nose and mouth. This means that everytime you, tab or any vessels in the kitchen, you are spreading viruses and if you are infected with influenza virus, be sure that you are going to get your immediate neighbour affected.

If you are suffering from influenza, then you need to follow some hygienic tips that will help you keep your family members and surroundings safe from being affected. You can use a hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap. There are three types of influenza viruses namely Influenza A, B and C.

Type A Influenza Virus:

Type A influenza virus has the capability of infecting animals though it is commonly found in humans. Influenza A is said to be very harmful as this virus can cause further health complications. Wild aquatic birds often carry influenza A and can cause an outbreak among humans. This can be transmitted to humans thereby causing an outbreak. If one person is infected, then you better be sure that everyone in your surroundings are also going to suffer your plight.

Type B Influenza Virus:

Influenza B affects only humans and is less harmful than influenza A. Type B has the same tendency to affect people on the same lines of type A, but it takes time for a person to get affected. Type B influenza can be identified by symptoms such as running nose, sore throat, fever, muscle and body aches and severe cough.

Type C Influenza Virus:

Influenza type C viruses are also very found in humans and it is considered less effective in comparison to that of type A and B. Type C flu viruses do not cause an epidemic. This virus can be cured. It causes milder respiratory infections like cold, fever, cough, muscle pain and headaches that is treatable. But if left untreated, this virus can develop to something very deadly and cause pneumonia and bronchitis.

Note: Thus, if you are suffering from the influenza virus, it is advised that you consult a doctor at the earliest.

Symptoms of Influenza Virus:

Influenza virus can be very contagious and you need to watch out for the following symptoms. Beware of your surroundings as there may be a sick person next to you. All you can do is to stay away from people who are sick and wash your hands with soap. Here are some of the symptoms that you need to watch out for.

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • Extreme tiredness
  • An unbearable cough

Now you may wonder what is the difference between cold and influenza virus. You may experience the above-listed symptoms in both cold and influenza. But if you are suffering from influenza virus, all of the above-listed symptoms will be severe or extreme.

Risks of Influenza Virus:

Most people who suffer from any flu will get healed in a day or two, but influenza will try and spread the infection and then only leave you. That is why this virus is considered to be deadly. If influenza is left untreated, it will cause further complications such as pneumonia and a few other complications that can turn out to be life-threatening or sometimes result in death. This virus can trigger other health issues such as sinus, inflammation in the heart, brain, or multi-organ failure. This can happen if the infection is left untreated. So make it a point to consult your doctor and stay away from self-medication that will make things worse for you.

Influenza Vaccine:

Because influenza virus is considered a serious disease that can lead to serious hospitalisation or sometimes death, there is a vaccine that is given on annual basis. This disease has the capability of affecting different people in different ways. It is said that millions of people get this flu annually in which tens of thousands die from this disease world-wide. However, hospitals are making it a point that a vaccine that prevents this flu is given every year. This vaccine reduces the risks of patients getting influenza but is said to have certain side effects.

Types of Influenza Vaccines:

There are usually two types of vaccines that are used to prevent influenza virus. Both these vaccines are used as a tool to prevent influenza and its contagious spreading. These vaccines play an important role in not just preventing the virus, but also providing you the knowledge that this so-called virus does exist. Most people feel that this is treatable by self-medication, but they do not know the complications it involves in it.

Inactivated Influenza Vaccines (IIV):

Inactivated influenza vaccines can be used on individuals who are aged 6 months and above, including pregnant women. It is an injection that is injected into the deltoid thigh. Children between the age group of 6 months and 8 years must receive two doses. In terms of pregnant women, this vaccine will protect both the mother and her newborn against influenza. There may be some side-effects of this vaccine such as swelling near the injected site. In some case, people who have no previous exposure to the vaccine may experience fever and muscle pain.

Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccines (LAIV):

Live attenuated influenza vaccine is another type of vaccine that is in the form of nasal spray. This is also effectively used to curb influenza virus. LAIV is permissible to be used on individuals who are between the age group between 2 to 49 years of age, provided is is advised by a doctor who suggests your body condition is fine to sustain it.

Patients are usually given 1 dose initially and children are given 2 doses in a span of 4 weeks. This vaccine is made from other viruses and it prevents influenza. However, this has certain side-effects such as nasal congestion, fever and a sore throat. Moreover, the side-effects are mild when compared to that of IIV.

Side-effects of Influenza Vaccine:

Usually, influenza vaccines develop antibiotics in your body after two weeks after the vaccination is given. These antibiotics prevent the infection from attacking your body or organs. There are traditional influenza vaccines that are given to protect you from flu viruses and influenza A & B. There are also quadrivalent vaccines that are also given to protect you from an Type B Influenza virus. According to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following have been identified as some of the side-effects of Influenza vaccines.

  • Swelling in the place where the injection was given.
  • Severe fever
  • Body ache; and
  • Muscle soreness

FAQs:

Influenza virus is a contagious disease that can affect your surroundings instantly. With just a sneeze this infection can spread . It has the capability of affecting anyone around an infected person. These frequently asked questions will give you an insight into how you need to go about the entire issue if you figured you’ve got influenza virus.

1. Can I get the influenza virus again?

There are no chances that you may suffer from an influenza virus again as your body would have developed immune resistance to that virus during the phase of treatment. There have been cases where the influenza virus changes considerably over time and this means that we will have to change the vaccine itself. In such as situation you may develop influenza virus once again.

2. Who is prone to getting the influenza virus?

Initially, anyone who gets influenza will suffer from mild symptoms, but this will elope to something deadlier. However, there are some people who are likely to get hospitalised with this virus. Here is a list of people who are prone to influenza.

  • Pregnant women
  • Children below the age of 5 years.
  • Adults who are 65 years and above.
  • People suffering from chronic medical conditions.
  • People suffering from asthma
  • Individuals suffering from brain, spinal and epilepsy problems
  • People who have been previously suffering from heart diseases such as congenital, congestive and coronary artery disease.
  • People suffering from kidney and liver disorders
  • Individuals below 19 years of age and who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

3. How to protect yourself from getting infected by influenza?

A vaccine is said to be used as the best way to protect yourself from an influenza virus attack. There are other simple ways that you can follow to help protect yourself from this deadly infection. Follow these simple steps and stay healthy.

  • Cover your nose and mouth using your shoulder or both your hands when sneezing.
  • Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • If your suffering from influenza, make sure you stay at home for 24 hours until your fever reduces.
  • Do not touch your eyes, mouth or your nose because this can be a way for the virus to spread.

4. How long does it take for the symptoms to show?

Once you’ve got the virus it takes two days for the symptoms to be shown in your body. You may slowly begin to experience your muscles aching, severe fever, sore throat and throat paining cough. Also, keep in mind that if this is treated with self-medication there are chances that it may become worse. Before you take a wrong step, it is better you consult your doctor and seek immediate medical supervision.

Influenza is a disease that can spread rapidly and this can turn out to be life-threatening if not treated well in advance. If you find any of the symptoms of influenza, then you need to consult a doctor immediately. Most people think that this is a self-treatable virus and can be dealt with in an easy manner. Well, if you’re of the thought that this virus is self-treatable, then you may be wrong. In some cases, self-medication can turn out to be a nightmare. So all you need to do is to make it a point to consult a doctor and you’ll be cured in no time.

Also Read:  Influenza – A Virus Subtype H1N1‬‬

News on Influenza Virus

Influenza Is Wreaking Havoc in Nebraska

– 26th Dec 2018

The Department of Health and Human Rights has reported that more and more schools and day care centers are being shut down in Nebraska because of a wave of cases of influenza amongst the people. The Department of Health and Human Rights has made influenza vaccination its top priorities and is urging all healthcare providing centers to aggressively vaccinate people who have not received their influenza shot for this year. Viral diseases can reach epidemic levels in no time and influenza as a viral infection is especially harmful to pregnant women as well as diabetics. In the case of diabetics, this disease can make it very difficult to monitor and control blood sugar levels effectively. For pregnant women the situation becomes even more complicated as they cannot be given any strong antibiotics as they can end up potentially harming the baby, the fever, on the other hand, is also a fetus harming situation. Thus, the health department is on high alert in Nebraska, ensuring that the virus is contained before it causes much havoc.

Studies Reveal Tethered Antibodies Can Effectively Prevent Influenza Virus

– 30th Nov 2018

In a recent study done by the international collaboration of scientists based from Scripps research found that tethering more than one antibodies together can significantly increase the prevention capabilities against almost all types of influenza virus. The results can prove to be extremely helpful in planning prevention against influenza virus which is known for its ability to mutate swiftly.

The study was conducted by harvesting antibodies from llamas which are highly reduced in size compared to human antibodies helping in seamless bonding together. Even though the concept of tethering anti-bodies together existed for a long time, this is the first time successful results were obtained against influenza A and B virus.

X-ray observation and electron microscopy studies revealed that when combined together these antibodies can effectively target the weak points of the influenza virus and render it harmless. This is a very promising result as this shows that all kinds of influenza virus can be attacked on their weak points by tethered antibodies.

There is still research happening to device an effective strategy to deliver these antibodies into host bodies to enable the host to fight off influenza. Till date, there is no working vaccination against deadly influenza due to their rapidly mutating characteristics. With this new results, scientists believe that influenza virus infections can be successfully curbed.

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