Influenza

Book an Appointment

Overview

The influenza virus (IV) is still of great importance as it poses an immanent threat to humans and animals. Among the three IV-types (A, B, and C) influenza A viruses are clinically the most important being responsible for severe epidemics in humans and domestic animals. Aerosol droplets transmit the virus that causes a respiratory disease in humans that can lead to severe pneumonia and ultimately death. The high mutation rate combined with the high replication rate allows the virus to rapidly adapt to changes in the environment. Thereby, IV escape the existing immunity and become resistant to drugs targeting the virus. This causes annual epidemics and demands for new compositions of the yearly vaccines. Furthermore, due to the nature of their segmented genome, IV can recombine segments. This can eventually lead to the generation of a virus with the ability to replicate in humans and with novel antigenic properties that can be the cause of a pandemic outbreak. For its propagation the virus binds to the target cells and enters the cell to replicate its genome. Newly produced viral proteins and genomes are packaged at the cell membrane where progeny virions are released. As all viruses IV depends on cellular functions and factors for their own propagation, and therefore intensively interact with the cells. This dependency opens new possibilities for anti-viral strategies.

Symptoms

Sudden onset of moderate to high fever.

Dry cough.

Headache.

Sore throat.

Chills.

Runny nose.

Loss of appetite.

Muscle aches.

Tiredness.

Causes

The flu is caused by an influenza virus. Most people get the flu when they breathe in tiny airborne droplets from the coughs or sneezes of someone who has the flu. You can also catch the flu if you touch something with the virus on it, and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Risk factors

Age. Seasonal influenza tends to target children 6 months to 5 years old, and adults 65 years old or older.

Living or working conditions. ...

Weakened immune system. ...

Chronic illnesses. ...

Race. ...

Aspirin use under age 19. ...

Pregnancy. ...

Obesity.

Calendar Schedule

Have a medical question?

We are available to help you with all your questions and concerns.

Complications

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

The most frequent serious complications of influenza are pulmonary and fall into 4 categories: primary influenza pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, pneumonia due to unusual pathogens or in immunocompromised hosts, and exacerbations of chronic pulmonary diseases.

Prevention

The best way to prevent influenza is to get a flu vaccine every year. The influenza virus is constantly changing. Each year, scientists work together to identify the virus strains that they believe will cause the most illness, and a new vaccine is made based on their recommendations.