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Proactive Prevention of Seasonal Influenza

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO), and global health partners, an estimated 650,000 deaths annually are related to seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses. Let’s explore information about seasonal influenza and effective ways to prevent it in the following article.

1. Basic Information about Seasonal Influenza

1.1 How does Seasonal Influenza develop?

Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses circulating worldwide. It can spread rapidly from person to person through coughing or sneezing, releasing virus-laden droplets into the air. It can also be transmitted through contact with virus-contaminated hands.

There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C, and D. Among them, influenza A and B viruses circulate and cause seasonal influenza outbreaks.

– Influenza A viruses are further divided into groups based on the combination of surface proteins. Currently circulating strains in humans include A/H1N1 and A/H3N2.

– Influenza B viruses are categorized into B/Yamagata or B/Victoria lineages.

– Influenza C virus is less frequently detected and typically causes mild infections with no significant impact on community health.

– Influenza D virus mainly affects livestock and is known to have no or limited ability to infect humans.

Basic Information about Seasonal Influenza

Seasonal transitions, sudden temperature changes, and significant day-to-night temperature differences can increase the number of seasonal influenza patients

1.2 Characteristic Symptoms

Seasonal influenza is characterized by a sudden onset of fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, severe discomfort, sore throat, and runny nose. Coughing can become increasingly severe and may persist for two weeks or more.

Most individuals recover within a week without requiring medical care. However, influenza can lead to severe illness or death, especially in high-risk groups such as young children, the elderly, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and those with underlying health conditions.

Influenza can exacerbate symptoms of other chronic illnesses. In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia and septicemia. Therefore, individuals experiencing severe symptoms should promptly seek medical attention and evaluation.

1.3 High-Risk Individuals for Seasonal Influenza

Individuals at highest risk of severe seasonal influenza include:

– Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy

– Children under 5 years old

– Individuals over 65 years old

– Those with chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes

– Individuals with a high risk of exposure to influenza, including healthcare workers.

2. Transmission Pathways of Seasonal Influenza

Seasonal influenza easily spreads and transmits rapidly in densely populated areas such as schools and nursing homes. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, virus-containing droplets disperse into the air and can infect nearby individuals. The virus can also spread through virus-contaminated hands when touching the face. To prevent transmission, individuals should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and wash their hands regularly.

Proactive Prevention of Seasonal Influenza

You should cover their mouth and nose properly when coughing and wash their hands regularly.

In temperate climates, seasonal influenza outbreaks typically occur during the winter, while in tropical regions, influenza can occur throughout the year, leading to more unpredictable outbreaks. Seasonal transitions, sudden temperature changes, and significant day-to-night temperature differences can make individuals with weakened health more susceptible to illness, especially influenza, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

The incubation period, the time from infection to the onset of symptoms, is approximately 2 days, ranging from 1-4 days.

3. WHO Recommendations for Seasonal Influenza Prevention

3.1 Vaccination for Disease Prevention

The most effective preventive measure against influenza/virus is vaccination. Immunity from vaccination decreases over time, so annual vaccination is recommended to protect the body against influenza. Vaccination is especially crucial for those at high risk of influenza complications and those living with or caring for high-risk individuals. The WHO recommends annual vaccination for:

– Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy

– Children aged 6 months to 5 years

– Individuals over 65 years old

– Individuals with chronic illnesses and healthcare workers.

Vaccination for Seasonal Influenza

The most effective preventive measure against influenza/virus is vaccination

3.2 Personal Protective Measures and Seasonal Influenza Prevention

– Wash hands regularly, clean and dry them properly. Use soap and warm water, and wash hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after contact with public surfaces.

– Maintain daily throat hygiene, cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, use tissues, and dispose of them properly.

– Change clothes frequently, maintain body and hair cleanliness to reduce the risk of infection from surfaces.

– Isolate individuals who feel unwell, have a fever, and exhibit suspected influenza symptoms early.

– If someone in the household or close vicinity shows influenza symptoms, avoid close contact to prevent bacterial spread. Wearing a mask can reduce the spread of the influenza virus.

– Avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth of others, especially those showing symptoms, as these are the primary entry points for the virus.

– Keep the body warm, maintain a balanced diet, drink enough water, and engage in regular physical exercise to enhance immunity and the body’s defense against infection.

– Actively monitor health, and if symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat, headache, fatigue, etc., appear, seek medical attention at healthcare facilities for timely evaluation and treatment. Avoid self-medication and adhere to treatment and isolation guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease to others.

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