Monday, May 28, 2012

Interesting facts about flu (influenza)

Flu belongs to so called infectious diseases.

Flu is caused by RNA viruses and doesn't only affect humans but also mammals and birds.

Flu has many different symptoms and the most common are coughs, fever, chills, muscle pains and headache.

Every year between 5-20% of the total U.S. population gets the flu.

In United States flu is responsible for about 36,000 human deaths each year.

Flu viruses are usually spreading from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people that already caught flu.

Older people, as well as young children are at higher risk of getting the flu because of their weaker immune system.

The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. Even if you receive flu shot you can still get flu though there are much smaller odds for this to happen. Getting the flu vaccination each year is still the best prevention measure against the flue.

Swine flu (H1N1) is flu that is common in swine and rare in humans. People who work with swines are at higher risk of catching swine influenza virus if the swine carries a strain able to infect humans.

Swine flu virus very rarely mutates into a form able to pass easily from human to human, though such rare case happened in Mexico in 2009.

Flu spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually - millions in pandemic years.

The symptoms of flu were first clearly described by Hippocrates about 2,400 years ago.

The most famous and deadliest flu in history was Spanish flu which lasted from 1918 to 1919, and has killed by some estimates between 20-100 million people.

New flu viruses are being constantly produced, mostly by mutation from known viruses.

Flu complications can include pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of certain chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

In the United States, flu is responsible for a total cost of over $10 billion per year.

Flu is often confused with the common cold because of the similar symptoms, but flu is a much more severe disease compared to common cold.

It has been proven that the frequent hand washing reduces the risk of flu infection.

People who contract flu are mostly infective between the second and third day after the infection and infectious state usually lasts for around ten days.

Researchers are still on a lookout for universal flu vaccine that would also eliminate the need for seasonal flu vaccinations.

Flu vaccines contain bits of weak or dead germs that force the human immune system to produce antibodies that circulate in the blood in order to kill those specific germs.

There has been plenty of talk about how severe an H5N1 (bird flue) pandemic might be but yet there are still no efficient vaccines against it. This means that H5N1 still poses a serious international threat.

The H5N1 virus has very high fatality rate and has taken human lives in about 60 percent of the over 500 confirmed human cases.