Influenza Virus Type A: How To Effectively Stop Its Spread

Influenza: The Seasonal Flu

Prevention is better than cure. Flu is the infection of respiratory tract including nose, throat and lungs. Though they differ in terms of severity, yet, considering the resemblance of symptoms of common cold, Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19, it becomes very important to prevent the spread of these infections. 

Seasonal Flu
Seasonal Flu
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that millions of people get the flu each year. The majority recover within a week, but the flu can be fatal too. We can anticipate seasonal flu epidemics and prepare accordingly because they typically occur in late autumn and winter. Influenza can occur throughout the year in tropical areas, resulting in more irregular outbreaks, but prevention is still crucial.

Getting vaccinated against influenza (flu) on an annual basis with simple infection control measures like hand washing is the most effective strategy.

Four types of influenza virus are there: A, B, C, and D. Influenza A, a member of the Orthomyxoviridae family, is responsible for the pandemic. Depending on whether hemagglutinin and neuraminidase surface antigen are present, influenza A is further subdivided into a number of subtypes. The major subtypes of the influenza virus that infect a large number of population are H1N1 and H3N2. Due to the rapid antigenic and genetic changes that cause severe infections, the H3N2 subtype is on the focus. 

A pandemic of influenza is characterized by the recurrence of the influenza A subtype, to which the majority of humans are not immune, resulting in a global epidemic. There were three major pandemics in the past century: About 40 million people died from the 1918 Spanish Flu (H1N1), while the deaths from the 1957 Asian Flu (H2N2) and 1968 Hong Kong Flu (H2N3) were both estimated to be between 1-2 million and 0.75-1 million, respectively.

H3N2 is responsible for one of the three significant flu pandemics that happened recently. A novel H3N2 influenza virus strain appeared in Hong Kong in 1968 (A/Hong Kong/1/1968 [HK/68]), prompting a worldwide pandemic that resulted in over a million deaths. Prior to this outbreak that occurred in Hong Kong, there was no evidence of H3N2 viruses in humans.

Influenza viruses typically spread in pigs. When influenza viruses are found in humans, they are referred to as "variant" viruses. In July 2011, the matrix (M) gene of influenza A H3N2 variant viruses—also referred to as "H3N2v" viruses—from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus was first observed in humans. 

The majority of H3N2v infections have been brought on by prolonged contact with pigs at agricultural fairs. Although there has been some human-to-human spread of this virus in the past, there has not yet been any sustained or community-wide spread of H3N2v. It is possible that people with this virus will continue to contract sporadic infections or even localized outbreaks. 

How Influenza Virus Spreads?

  • According to experts, flu virus spreads in the form of droplets whiles talking, coughing or sneezing. 
  • You could become infected if you inhale these droplets or if they land in your mouth or nose. 
  • There is also evidence to suggest that touching something (like keyboard, door knob or other object) with a virus and then touching your own mouth or nose could infect you. 
  • Inhaling influenza virus particles is a third potential infection route. 
  • Scientists are unsure which of these modes of transmission is most prevalent.

Detection Techniques

There are four categories of influenza virus detection methods: 
  1.    Traditional techniques (Infection culture), 
  2.  Serological methods (immunofluorescence examines, supplement obsession, immunodiffusion test, infection balance strategy, hemagglutination strategy, quick antigen testing, and so forth.),
  3.  Bio-sensing techniques (optical biosensors, giant magneto-resistance biosensors, aptamer-based biosensors, and electrochemical biosensors) 
  4.   Advanced quick methods (rapid influenza technique, Real-Time PCR, multiplex PCR, Non-PCR-based RNA-specific detection methods, nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA), and conventional PCR)

Sign and Symptoms of Flu (Influenza)

Symptoms of the flu usually appear quickly, and may include:
  • Fever 
  • Dry Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Breathlessness
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Malaise
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
  • Encephalitis or myocarditis

Treatment Options 

You can get the medications that are currently recommended—oseltamivir, zanamivir, peramivir, and baloxavir—with a prescription from your doctor.

People who have a condition that puts them at a higher risk should get treatment as soon as possible.

If your doctor gives you antiviral medication, you should take all of it according to what your doctor says.

Who is more likely to get a serious illness?

The following people are more likely to experience complications when they get the seasonal flu: 
  • Kids whose age is less than 5 years, 
  • Individuals with age of 65 years and more, 
  • Pregnant ladies, 
  • Individuals with specific chronic conditions (like asthma, diabetes, coronary illness, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions).

Precautionary Measures

Flu Vaccine
Flu Vaccine
The yearly flu vaccine is the first and most crucial step in protecting against flu viruses, according to the CDC. The flu vaccine should be given to everyone over the age of six months every year. Each year, the burden of flu-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths on the healthcare system is reduced by flu vaccines. 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued certain guidance. The guidance includes additional precautions for people who are more likely to get serious flu complications.

Take the recommended daily measures to prevent the flu from spreading.

  • Avoid getting too close to sick people.
  • If you are ill, avoid contact with other people as much as possible.
  • Cover while you talk, sneeze and cough.
  • Wear personal protective covers like gloves, masks that cover your mouth and nose when you have to make contact.
  • When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose. After you use the tissue, dispose of it in the trash.
  • Use soap and water to wash your hands frequently. An alcohol-based hand rub can be used in place of soap and water.
  • Don't touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. This is how germs spread.
  • Disinfect and clean surfaces and objects that might have influenza viruses on them.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises people who have the flu to remain at home for at least 24 hours after their fever has subsided.
  • Take healthy meals to boost your immunity.
During seasonal influenza epidemics, influenza A(H3N2) viruses have significantly outpaced their impact in the early years of the pandemic, which began in 1968, in terms of cumulative morbidity and mortality. Influenza virus Type A(H3N2) continues to adapt to evade host immunity resulting in a higher rate of hospitalization and death than influenza virus type A(H1N1) and B viruses. Although new vaccines and treatments have been developed, further advancements in influenza control and prevention are still required and will be crucial in preparing for the next pandemic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it the flu or a cold?

Cough and runny nose are common symptoms of both the flu and the common cold. However, while flu symptoms can be severe and cause serious complications, cold symptoms tend to be mild. The flu and colds are caused by different viruses.

How can you tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

The only way to know for sure if you have the flu or COVID-19 is to get tested, as the symptoms are similar. Flu is caused by Influenza Type A, B, C or D whereas COVID-19 is caused by SARS virus.

Is H3N2v harmful?

At the moment, the severity of the human illness brought on by H3N2v is comparable to that of the seasonal flu. Keep in mind that even the seasonal flu has the potential to be a serious illness. Complications (like pneumonia) can occasionally result from seasonal influenza. In addition to this, it may result in hospitalization or even death.

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  1. I didn’t know anything about this. This was just an informative post. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren - bournemouthgirl

  2. Very informative and detailed post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. It's so important to stay informed about influenza variants and outbreaks and to follow the science and medical advice to stay safe. This is a really helpful breakdown of it all and will help us all be more aware of what to look out for as well as what to do if we get it. Thanks for this!

  4. I have some information about flu but not a lot. This is very interesting and learned a lot from it about flu. Thank you for sharing!


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