Treatment: The general guidelines for influenza treatment include plenty of rest, rehydration and, if necessary, over-the-counter flu medications and pain killers can be taken. The most commonly used drugs include paracetemol and pseudophedrine to reduce fever, pain and nasal congestion. Antiviral drugs are used in severe cases of influenza infection.
Prevention and control: The best methods for prevention include regular hand-hygiene with soap and water or alcohol gels, good personal hygiene for example using a handkerchief when coughing or sneezing and regular environmental decontamination and cleaning regimes. N95 masks and/or N95 respirators are also recommended for healthcare workers treating potentially H1N1 infected patients or other pandemic influenza strains to minimize the spread of infection. There is also a seasonal influenza vaccine available for high risk groups (Brankston, 2007). The vaccine protects against the strains of influenza that research has shown to be the most abundant in the upcoming winter season. Some researchers suggest that the influenza vaccine coverage should be expanded to cover more of the population (Monto, 2010).
Disease and symptoms: The most common influenza symptoms include fever, chills, sore throat, muscle/joint pain, malaise, headache, nasal congestion, coughing and fatigue. However influenza can also cause viral pneumonia and is associated with secondary bacterial pneumonia, which result in significant morbidity and mortality in at risk groups such as the elderly, pregnant, asthmatics, those with chronic lung disease and other serious underlying diseases.
Brankston G, Gitterman L, Hirji Z, Lemieux C and Gardam M. (2007) Transmission of influenza A in human beings. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 7(4): 257-265.
Monto A.S. (2010) Seasonal influenza and vaccination coverage. Vaccine. 28(Suppl 4): D33-D44.