Seasonal influenza is a respiratory infection that is caused by viruses that spread from person to person directly via coughing and/or sneezing or indirectly from respiratory secretions on hands, tissues, etc. It attacks the respiratory system, including the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs.
People with influenza will have a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, body aches, headache, feeling unwell, sore throat and runny nose. Anyone can get the flu, but young children, elderly, pregnant women, those with chronic illnesses and people with poor immune health are especially vulnerable.
Although most people recover from fever and the other symptoms within a week without seeking medical attention, influenza can still cause severe illness. Worldwide, there’s an annual estimation of about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, which caused about 290 000 to 650 000 respiratory deaths.
Although seasonal influenza occurs mainly during the winter, influenza may occur throughout the year in tropical regions, such as Malaysia and causing outbreaks more irregularly.
Vaccination is an option for preventing influenza especially for people that are most at risk such as:
- Pregnant women
- People older than 65 years
- Children younger than 5 years
- People with chronic medical condition
Personal protective measures can also be carried out to prevent the disease:
- Cover mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Regular hand washing with proper drying of the hands
- Avoid crowds during the flu season
- Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, reduce smoking and drinking, exercise regularly to boost up immunity