A 6-year-old girl, who has always been in good health, has recently had a fever. Her mother treated it as a common cold. From time to time she gave her coconut water, herbal tea and boiled water. The mother thinks that she will do all her work of “discharging heat” effectively. Unfortunately, she realised that her daughter’s body temperature is getting higher instead of lower.
So, the mother put a thermometer into her daughter’s mouth and found out her daughter had a fever reaching 39 degrees Celsius. The mother got very anxious of course.
Without any hesitation, the mother immediately sent her daughter into the hospital for seeking emergency treatment. After going through few inspections, doctor confirmed the daughter has been infected by influenza.
Influenza, also known as seasonal flu, is an acute viral infection that spreads easily through the population. High-risk groups such as children, pregnant women, older people, and patients can be killed by severe complications.
Influenza can be classified into Type A, B and C.
Type A and Type B influenza are the most common ones. The detection rate of Type C influenza virus is relatively low, and it usually causes mild infections, with little impact on public health.”
Influenza A virus is distinguished by two protein antigens that are found on the surface, namely hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA).
There are 16 HA virus serotypes and 9 NAs. Generally, only birds can be infected by all serotypes. On human infections, then H1, 2, 3 and N1, 2 are the most common ones. Influenza virus serotypes are H1N1 and H3N2.
Influenza B viruses are divided into two groups, namely Yamagata and Victoria, but there is no serotype of influenza B. What is currently circulating is the type B flu.
What are the differences in between influenza and common cold?
Some people do not know the differences in between the influenza and common cold. The influenza is the disease caused by the influenza viruses. The main symptom is a high fever.
Influenza patients have fever above 38.5 degrees Celsius normally. Some people may simply have a high fever and then slowly develop joint pain, muscle aches, sore throat, runny nose and other symptoms. The patient will feel tired, its tiredness relatively more severe than the common cold. The situation will become more and more serious.
Colds are caused by other viruses. They usually have mild symptoms and do not cause serious complications. However, they can occur any time.
There is another kind of illness called “influenza like illness (ILI)” that covers many different pathogenesis mechanisms that cause flu-like illnesses. It can be caused by simple cough, fever, sore throat, viruses or bacteria, and even flu. Usually, only doctors or trained medical professionals know how to distinguish the differences.
Four Strains Vaccine
The World Health Organization recommends that five major risk groups, i.e. front-line workers, children aged 6 months to 5 years old, elderly people over 65 years old, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases should be vaccinated against influenza to reduce the risk of flu complications.
The flu vaccine is not included in the national vaccination program, so public needs to pay for it themselves. At present, influenza vaccines protecting against four virus strains are available in the market. Vaccination of influenza virus is also effective against other strains of influenza virus, at least relatively better than those people who never vaccinated at all.
Children under the age of 9 need to be vaccinated with two doses of influenza vaccine in the first year, followed by boosters each year as usual, and adults need to be vaccinated once a year.
Maybe some people think that since influenza can still be cured, there is no necessity of getting any vaccination. However, doctors will still encourage the public not to face this “preventable” disease, especially the high-risk groups.
Am I protected after vaccination?
It takes about two weeks for protective effect to develop after a vaccination. Therefore, if vaccination is only given after exposing to influenza viruses, the recipient can still be attacked by viruses.
In other words, when a person is infected by viruses already, flu symptoms can still happen despite vaccination is done. However, after the recovery, such vaccine will protect the patient from the next round of flu attack.
Once infected with the flu, our body’s immune system responds by producing resistance and leaving behind memories of the virus’ invasion, so that when second round of infection occurs later, the condition will not be as severe as the first infection.
In medicine, the influenza vaccine is made of inactive viruses. After vaccination, it can activate our immune system and produce antibodies to achieve protective effects.