Influenza is also called flu. It is a recurring public health concern that affects millions of people worldwide every year. In this year, it is crucial to evaluate the severity of the influenza season and understand its implications both on a global scale and within our local communities.
The Global Landscape of Influenza
According to research it’s found that there are billions of cases of seasonal influenza annually, which includes 3–5 million cases of severe illness along with 290,000 to 650,000 respiratory deaths annually. Also, it is found that ninety-nine percent of deaths in children under 5 years of age with influenza-related lower respiratory tract infections are in developing countries.
It is essential for healthcare professionals and policymakers to take regular evaluation on a global basis on influenza. The key strategies are vigilance, preventive measures, and vaccination in mitigating the impact of the flu on a global scale.
Flu On Local Landscape
In 2023, the influenza landscape in Thailand presents a unique set of challenges and concerns due to its tropical nature. According to the Department of Disease Control (DDC) reported that this year influenza infection figures have exceeded 185,216 cases or 279.9 cases per 100,000 population and four deaths. This represents a significant increase compared to the same period last year, indicating the highly contagious nature of seasonal flu.
To ensure comprehensive coverage of the identified at-risk group, the DDC encourages individuals to seek a flu vaccine at their nearest state-operated healthcare facility. This update serves as a reminder of the seriousness of the current influenza situation and the importance of taking preventive measures to protect public health.–
Influenza is an infectious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses, predominantly impacting the nasal and throat regions, and occasionally involving the lungs.
There are certain groups of individuals who are more likely to encounter these compilations than the average such as:
● Infants and young children, particularly those under the age of 12 months.
● Women who are pregnant, or have recently given birth during the flu season.
● Adults aged 65 and older.
The other vulnerable individuals who are likely to catch the flu such as individuals residing or working in crowded facilities like nursing homes, military barracks, or hospitals.
And there are people with certain medical conditions have a higher risk of complications, such as:
● Individuals with specific medical conditions, including chronic illnesses like asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes.
● Individuals who have previously suffered strokes.
● Individuals diagnosed with obesity.
Although the annual influenza vaccine doesn’t guarantee complete immunity, it significantly reduces the risk of severe flu-related complications. This is particularly crucial for those who are at a higher risk of experiencing these complications.
Symptoms to find: Recognizing the symptoms of influenza is crucial for early detection and treatment. The common symptoms of the flu such as:
● Body Aches
● Sore throat
● Runny Nose
● Eye Pain
Vomiting and diarrhea are also the symptoms of Flu. However, they are more common in children than adults.
How does the Transmission happen: The spread of influenza is primarily through respiratory droplets when infected individuals cough, sneeze, or talk. The droplets can be inhaled into the lungs by people who are nearby or possibly closer to the infected person’s facial area. Less often, a person might also get the flu, if it is transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the face, particularly the mouth or nose.
Complications: While many individuals recover from influenza within a week or 10 days from infection, certain groups are at a higher risk of developing complications, including pneumonia, dehydration, and the worsening of pre-existing chronic health issues.
Preventing influenza requires a multifaceted approach that involves both individual and community efforts. Some key preventive measures include:
Vaccination: Getting an annual influenza vaccine is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of infection. Timing is crucial, as it’s best to get vaccinated before influenza begins to circulate widely.
Hygiene: Practicing good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing and avoiding touching the face, can help prevent the spread of the virus.
Social Responsibility: Staying home when sick and covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing is essential to protect others from infection.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
In general, everyone should get a vaccine but certain individuals are more vulnerable to influenza and should prioritize getting vaccinated. This includes:
● People aged 65 and older.
● Individuals aged 19-64 with underlying health conditions like asthma, heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
● Those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, or hematologic conditions.
● Individuals with weakened immune systems due to illness or medication.
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary depending on factors like age and health. However, it consistently reduces the risk of flu illness and its associated hospitalizations, complications, and mortality rates. It is crucial to monitor the virus’s evolving strains, and the vaccine is updated annually to provide the best possible protection.
Influenza can be a serious illness, and its impact on individuals and communities cannot be underestimated. However, with the right tests and treatments in place, you can face this challenge with confidence. Your health is our top priority at Wellmed Bangkok Clinic, and our dedicated healthcare professionals are prepared to give you the care you need.