Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Efficacy, politics influence public trust in COVID-19 vaccine

If an initial COVID-19 vaccine is about as effective as a flu shot, uptake by the American public may fall far short of the 70% level needed to achieve herd immunity, new Cornell research suggests.

Vaccination

Q&A: How to stay safe from flu during the COVID-19 pandemic

Influenza is a serious illness that can make you miserable. At its worst, it can be fatal. As North America enters its first full flu season since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are wondering about the intersection ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Q&A: How a COVID-19 vaccine may look different than others

As flu season approaches and scientists continue to work toward a vaccine for COVID-19, Andrea Amalfitano uses his expertise in developing innovative treatments for a variety of diseases to shed light on the process for creating ...

Sleep apnea

Untreated sleep apnea is associated with flu hospitalization

As we approach flu season, adults with obstructive sleep apnea may want to take extra precautions. A study published online as an accepted paper in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine is the first to find that patients ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Iran announces its virus death toll passes 30,000

Iran announced Saturday that its death toll from the coronavirus has passed the milestone of 30,000, in what has been the Mideast region's worst outbreak.

Vaccination

As US battles COVID-19, flu shot misinfo spreads

US health officials are pushing Americans to get vaccinated against the flu to help prevent hospitals already busy battling COVID-19 from being overwhelmed this winter, but false claims are threatening their efforts.

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Influenza

Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae (the influenza viruses), that affects birds and mammals. The name influenza comes from the Italian influenza, meaning "influence" (Latin: influentia). The most common symptoms of the disease are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. Fever and coughs are the most frequent symptoms. In more serious cases, influenza causes pneumonia, which can be fatal, particularly for the young and the elderly. Although it is often confused with other influenza-like illnesses, especially the common cold, influenza is a much more severe disease than the common cold and is caused by a different type of virus. Influenza may produce nausea and vomiting, particularly in children, but these symptoms are more common in the unrelated gastroenteritis, which is sometimes called "stomach flu" or "24-hour flu".

Typically, influenza is transmitted through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols containing the virus. Influenza can also be transmitted by bird droppings, saliva, nasal secretions, feces and blood. Infection can also occur through contact with these body fluids or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Airborne aerosols have been thought to cause most infections, although which means of transmission is most important is not absolutely clear. Influenza viruses can be inactivated by sunlight, disinfectants and detergents. As the virus can be inactivated by soap, frequent hand washing reduces the risk of infection.

Influenza spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually — millions in pandemic years. Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century and killed tens of millions of people, with each of these pandemics being caused by the appearance of a new strain of the virus in humans. Often, these new strains appear when an existing flu virus spreads to humans from other animal species, or when an existing human strain picks up new genes from a virus that usually infects birds or pigs. An avian strain named H5N1 raised the concern of a new influenza pandemic, after it emerged in Asia in the 1990s, but it has not evolved to a form that spreads easily between people. In April 2009 a novel flu strain evolved that combined genes from human, pig, and bird flu, initially dubbed "swine flu", emerged in Mexico, the United States, and several other nations. WHO officially declared the outbreak to be a "pandemic" on June 11, 2009.

Vaccinations against influenza are usually given to people in developed countries and to farmed poultry. The most common human vaccine is the trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) that contains purified and inactivated material from three viral strains. Typically, this vaccine includes material from two influenza A virus subtypes and one influenza B virus strain. The TIV carries no risk of transmitting the disease, and it has very low reactivity. A vaccine formulated for one year may be ineffective in the following year, since the influenza virus evolves rapidly, and new strains quickly replace the older ones. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat influenza, with neuraminidase inhibitors being particularly effective.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA