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Prepare for winter

“Respiratory diseases can be triggered by, besides some bacteria, 175 so far identified members of 5 virus families. These, many believe to be influenza, wrongly. Actually, the title refers only to diseases that are different from other respiratory illnesses in epidemiological and clinical aspects. Influenza, just like other respiratory diseases, spreads via coughing, sneezing and mucus droplets formed when speaking,” says Zsolt Pinter M.D. chief of the International Vaccination Center of Dr. Rose Private Hospital.

“Flu spreads rapidly, sweeping through communities, such as schools and workplaces, in a matter of days. Signs of catarrh are lacking in the early symptoms, flu comes with a rapid, high fever, severe fatigue, and muscle pain. Therefore we always emphasize that children, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases are at an increased risk.

“What makes a virus more dangerous than the other, is a complex question,” continues Zsolt Pinter M.D., “for example, with some victims of H1N1 the confused immune system doesn’t attack the agent, but the body's blood vessels. Confronted with a weakened immune system, such a virus can have serious complications,” the doctor explains. But every human body reacts in a different way, so it is difficult to generalize, and, unfortunately, viruses are able to mutate rapidly. Therefore, the composition of he influenza vaccine changes every year.

Currently, this is the best prevention, although many people still believe flu to be “the other people’s problem” and downplay the risk of infection. But the complications we’re talking about can be, say, pneumonia, but the virus can also attack the heart, brain, and muscles, too. The flu vaccine itself does not cause infection, but vaccination reactions may develop with flu-like symptoms.

In Hungary, 35 influenza epidemics occurred in the last five years only. Between 1950-2000, more than 1 million people got sick in the ten outbreaks of the flu epidemic, and in three epidemics 2 million people were reported to be sick. During the flu epidemic of the spring of 2011, 430 000 were registered ill. In more developed countries, taking into account the recommendations of the WHO, about 250 million doses of influenza vaccine are used a year.