Stop the flu affecting you
We all know the signs – you start to feel a sore throat, then your body starts to ache, your nose starts to run and you’re swapping between feeling hot and cold every other minute. No one enjoys being affected by the flu, but for some people, the symptoms can be far worse than just a few miserable days in bed.
In 2017, more than 70,000 cases of (laboratory confirmed) cases of influenza were documented in Australian adults aged between 20 and 49 years, and it is estimated that in this age group approximately 22 people lose their life to the disease. For many others, this may have impacted their ability to work, socialise, care for others or generally enjoy their life.
If you want to protect yourself from the flu, consult with your doctor every year about your flu vaccination because the virus is constantly changing.
How to Prevent the Spread of Influenza
It’s important that everyone takes the appropriate measures to stop the spread of influenza.
There are a number of preventative actions you can do to protect yourself and others around you:
- Get vaccinated each year
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick
- If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, and limit close contact with other people if you can avoid it
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
Vaccination is the single most effective way of preventing influenza.
Influenza is very easily spread and cases are often under-reported because many people manage the disease themselves at home. On average each year in Australia, 100 people die and 5,100 people are hospitalised due to the flu.6 The 2017 flu season was particularly bad with more than 70,000 cases of (laboratory confirmed) influenza in young Australian adults (aged between 20-49 years).
Influenza vaccines cause your body to produce substances called antibodies. If a vaccinated person comes into contact with the influenza virus, these antibodies are then available to destroy it. There are different strains of influenza virus, and which strains are circulating changes from year to year. Each year, experts from around the world predict what strains will be circulating in the upcoming ‘flu season’. Hence it is important to get vaccinated ever year, so that your body is able to produce the antibodies that are specific to the flu that will mostly likely occur to give you the best possible protection.
Each year, the influenza virus changes. Therefore, the vaccine that was made to combat last year’s strains will be no longer effective (or as effective) against the current year’s strains. In addition, these antibody levels reduce over time, so annual vaccination is required to ensure you have optimal protection.
he Australian Department of Health recommends that everyone receives a yearly influenza vaccine to prevent influenza infection.12 Even if you are fit and healthy, influenza has the potential to cause very serious complications.
Each year, the people who are most affected can vary due to the predominant strain of the virus circulating in the community and who has immunity to it. In January 2018, a 21-year-old bodybuilder in the USA died after contracting influenza. Younger, healthy adults can still be at risk of serious complications brought on by influenza.
Influenza can be a mild condition for some people – a few days in bed with aches and pains, a sore throat and a fever. However, this is not the case for everyone. For others, it can cause some very serious complications. For people with chronic conditions such as asthma or congestive heart failure, influenza can make these conditions much worse.
Sources & Citations
- Centers for Disease Control. Flu Symptoms & Complications. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/symptoms.htm (accessed 27 April 2018).
- Australian Government. Department of Health. National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Selected disease by age group and sex. Available at: http://www9.health.gov.au/cda/source/rpt_5.cfm (accessed 2 May 2018).
- Li-Kim-Moy, J et al. Commun Dis Intell Q Rep 2016;40(4):E482-E95.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2017. Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3101.0Jun%202017?OpenDocument (accessed 9 May 2018).
- Centers for Disease Control. Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm (accessed 16 April 2018).
- Centers for Disease Control. Preventative steps. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm (accessed 27 April 2018).
- Australian Government, Department of Health. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition. Influenza. Available at: http://immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook10-home~handbook10part4~handbook10-4-7 (accessed 16 April 2018).
- Centers for Disease Control. CDC reports flu hit younger people particularly hard this season, February 2014. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0220-flu-report.html (accessed 27 April 2018).
- Yahoo 7. Family’s emotional plea after bodybuilder, 21 suddenly dies of the flu. Available at: https://au.news.yahoo.com/familys-plea-after-bodybuilder-son-dies-suddenly-from-flu-38565642.html (accessed 27 April 2018).
- MacIntyre CR, Heywood AE, Kovoor P, et al. Ischaemic heart disease, influenza and influenza vaccination: a prospective case control study. Heart 2013.
- Kwong JC, Schwartz KL, Campitelli MA, et al. Acute Myocardial Infarction after Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza Infection. N Engl J Med 2018; 378: 345-353.
- NSW Government, Health. Influenza Vaccination by Pharmacists. Available at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/pharmacist-vaccination.aspx (accessed 20 June 2018)
SPANZ.IFLU.18.05.0192 Date of preparation May 2018Show All