Influenza – a dangerous disease that is often mistaken for a cold

Influenza viruses change very quickly, causing many dangerous complications while the symptoms are similar to colds, causing many people to confuse it and lead to subjectivity.

Assoc. Prof. TS.BS Cao Huu Nghia (lecturer at the Training Center, Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City) at the seminar Seasonal flu and the importance of flu shots in the context of Covid-19, February 17, said that anyone can get the flu and that complications from seasonal flu can happen at any age. Influenza is an acute infectious disease, transmitted through the respiratory tract, which is still a serious global public health problem. In temperate regions, seasonal flu usually occurs in winter – spring. In tropical countries like Vietnam, seasonal flu is year-round.

The World Health Organization (WHO) records about one billion cases of seasonal flu every year, of which 3-5 million are severe. Seasonal flu is one of the world’s highest causes of death, up to 650,000 deaths a year, equivalent to one person dying from the flu every minute.

The number of hospitalizations and deaths due to influenza is mainly in high-risk groups, including people over 65 years old; people with chronic underlying diseases such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – COPD, diabetes…; pregnant women and children under 5 years old.

According to Doctor Nghia, seasonal flu can cause pneumonia, otitis media, and myocarditis, exacerbating existing diseases in children. The disease contributes to impaired function or prevents the elderly from recovering as usual. The disease can also promote and trigger myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accident in atherosclerotic patients, increase the risk of myocardial infarction by 10 times in normal healthy people, increase by 8 times. stroke risk.

According to Doctor Bach Thi Chinh (Medical Director, VNVC Immunization Center System), many people mistakenly call it the flu without distinguishing between colds or flu, while these are two different diseases. Both diseases have some similar symptoms such as runny nose, stuffy nose, cough, sore throat. Other symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal disturbances are common in influenza, and are rare or absent in colds.

“Mild colds can go away on their own after a week. Meanwhile, flu causes many dangerous complications, the possibility of hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Chinh. The symptoms and names are similar, so many people think that the flu is usually mild, leading to the subjective not paying attention to prevention, while the flu has a preventive vaccine.

Major health authorities in the world (WHO, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Vietnam’s Ministry of Health recommend flu vaccine every year It is an effective way to prevent flu infection and avoid serious complications from flu.

According to Dr. Chinh, the characteristic of influenza virus is that it changes very quickly, including many types A, B, and C. In order to ensure the compatibility between the influenza virus strain of the vaccine component and the influenza virus strains circulating in reality, the vaccine is The manufacturer updates every year based on WHO’s formulation recommendations, from the results of the identification of strains in laboratories around the world. That’s why it’s important to get a flu shot every year.

Vietnam is using the trivalent seasonal flu vaccine (3 strains – containing antigens of two subtypes of influenza A virus and one of the two strains of influenza B virus) and the quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine (4 strains – containing antigens of two subtypes). influenza A virus and both strains of influenza B virus). According to experts, influenza B virus is difficult to predict with accuracy, so the quadrivalent season flu vaccine can provide broader protection against influenza B virus strains than the trivalent seasonal flu vaccine.

WHO believes that in the context of the current complicated developments of the Covid-19 pandemic, annual influenza vaccination is very important to ensure population immunity and reduce the risk of co-infection with influenza and Covid-19. In addition, flu shots also reduce the risk of flu hospitalization, limit the overload of the health system, which is under a lot of pressure due to Covid-19, and reduce the number of deaths from infectious diseases including influenza and Covid. -19.

Le Phuong


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