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Influenza Demystified

Updated on October 13, 2018
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Jeff Zod is a health, fitness and nutrition enthusiast.He enjoys eating healthy food and exercising.

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Communicable diseases definition

Communicable diseases are infectious illnesses that are caused by microorganisms such as viruses, fungi, parasites, and bacteria. They can be spread either directly or indirectly from one human being to another. Some of these illnesses are transmitted from one person by insect bites while others result from consuming contaminated water and foods.

This essay will analyze influenza infection as a communicable disease and provide a well-detailed report on its causes, symptoms, prevention, demography, epidemiology, the role played by organizations and nurses to help curb the diseases and its global implication.

The World Health Organization reports that at least five to ten percent of adults and twenty to thirty percent of adults are affected by Flu every year and three to five million cases are reported to be severe. Resultantly, up to five hundred thousand deaths are recorded every year.

Influenza Disease


Flu is an infectious illness that is caused by the influenza virus affecting the nose, throat, bronchi and in some instances the lungs. There are three main types of influenza virus namely, Influenza A, B, and C.

Symptoms


Fever
A cough
Aching muscles
Fatigue
Nasal congestion
A headache

Mode of transmission


Influenza virus is transmitted in three ways. First, direct contact with people affected by the virus through coughs, sneezing or talking. The second mode of transmission is contacted by fomites or contaminated objects such as doorknobs. The last mode of transmission of Flu is inhaling aerosols with laden with the virus.

Complication


There cases where people recover from the flu without developing a secondary infection but in other cases where the flu is severe secondary infections such as ear infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Also, the symptoms may go away but may come back after a few days or week and during this period one may suffer from a secondary disease.

Treatment


Some of the home remedies for flue are; resting in bed, drink a lot of fluids, avoid alcohol or tobacco and take over-the-counter such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen to relieve pain and aches. Patients can be recommended medical treatments of antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir to reduce the severity of the disease.

Mortality


The fatality rate of Flu is one percent to two percent of the population.
Prevalence
At least three to five million people are infected with the virus every year with 290,000 to 650,000 dying each year (Kwok et al., 2015). In developed countries, the disease is common in people aged sixty-five years and above. The most common form of Flu is H3N2 prevalent in East and Southeast Asia.

Prevention


Vaccination is the best form of prevention of Influenza as it reduces the consequence of epidemics. The vaccination is effective and easily available. The elderly individuals are insisted on getting the vaccine as they are at a high risk of getting the disease. Vaccination is estimated to reduce flu morbidity by 60 percent and mortality by 70-90% (Corace et al., 2016).

Is Influenza A Reportable Disease?


Diseases that are reportable are considered to be of great concern in public health. Influenza is a communicable disease and can be spread from one person to another thus it is taken to be of great concern, therefore, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention necessitates that any case of influenza to be reported to the institute immediately. This is for the institute to carry out immunization programs.

Determinants of Health and Influenza Development


Any person can catch Flu and severe symptoms can happen at any age. However, there are certain groups of people that are at a high risk of contracting serious Influenza complications. This group comprises individuals aged sixty-five years and above, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and diabetes and for children aged five years and below.

People with mild illness may require no medication as the probability of recovering from the illness is high just within two weeks. People who have asthma are likely to experience more asthma attack when having flu and worsening conditions may be experienced by people with chronic congestive heart failure when attacked by flu.

Other people who are vulnerable to developing more complicated symptoms of influenza are people with metabolic disorders, those who are extremely obese and people suffering from blood disorders (Hayward et al., 2014).

When the flu virus gets into the body, it directs itself to the respiratory tract and bids to the cells the lights out its genetic formation RNA into the nucleus of those cells. There the virus copies and replicates itself thus assuming the work of the cell. The cell finally dies and the flu antigens spread into other body parts causing symptoms of the infected virus. The symptoms are normally not risky but are uncomfortable.

Influenza weakens the immunity of the body making it susceptible to more dangerous conditions. Another determinant of health is the symptomatic and incubation period for the illness. It is reported that the activity of the diseases in the body stops becoming communicable after five to seven days in a host but the host may continue revealing symptoms of the diseases for up to two weeks.

Epidemiologic Triangle of Influenza


Understanding how a certain disease is spread is very crucial for an epidemiologist. Also, he or she has to understand what makes the community vulnerable to the disease, how it spreads throughout the community and what makes them survive and thrive in the midst of the infection.

The epidemiologist consists of three parts; agent host and the environment. The host part includes the following elements; contagiousness, susceptibility, and behavior. On the agent part, the elements of survivability, transferability, infectivity, and contagiousness are included whereas the environment part includes; type of host that is present, the density of the host, transferability and surface area to volume ratio.

First part is the host which is the organism that has the capacity to allow the antigen to get into the body and develop its cells. The host related to influenza is a human being. Flu can affect any person from any community irrespective of gender or race. Both animals and birds are considered as the reservoir of the disease. The elderly group is estimated to get the virus easily compared to other aged groups yet they are the one who receives less annual flu vaccines.

The second part of the epidemiological triangle is the agent. The agent that causes flu is the disease that provokes or suppresses the bacteria or the microbe. There are three main viruses that cause Influenza namely; type A, type B and that of type C. The fast mutations experienced in these viruses have led to people being conversant with the agent viruses as HIN1. The agents have the following characteristics; viral shedding, seasonal epidemics, enveloped viruses, and antigenic shift t as well as antigenic drift.

The last part of the epidemiology triangle is the environment. This relates to the external factors that allow the spread and the progression of the disease. Lack of a proper diet, improper health-care policies, and seasoning are among the key factors that can increase the chances of the disease penetrating into the body.

Also, environments such as indoors and hospitals can make the agent be spread from one person to a vulnerable host. In addition, touching infected surface where the virus can stay for long, for example, hard surfaces. The mode of transmission of influenza includes; direct contact, droplet, indirect contact, and airborne (Htway & Hernandez, 2016).

Special Notifications to the Schools, Community, and General Population

here are several considerations that the department of health should take to ensure the prevention of the disease and reduce its spread on to other hosts. First, the community requires education of influenza, its causes, symptoms, prevention and the people who are the risk of getting the disease. Further, the department of health should provide vaccinations to the community mostly young children and the elderly who are not able to make it to medical providers for these vaccines.

Also, education on the communicable disease is important for the students and provision of vaccines. In the case of the epidemic in the school, the management should consider closing the school to avoid further spread of the disease. The infected individuals should be taken to seek medical care. The children come into contact with many infected objects and individuals such as friends, schoolmates, family members, and caretakers. Therefore limiting contact with will help eliminate the probability of a new case of flu (Corace et al., 2016).

Role of the Community Health Nurse

Assessing and making reports on communicable diseases is one of the major roles of the community health nurse. The community health nurses often dedicate themselves to collecting statistics on influenza and presenting their data to CDC. Therefore the community health nurse is responsible for addressing influenza as a communicable disease thus purposely forming an education and well-prepared population.

The information gathered relating the disease, provides a platform for accurate risk assessment and to give updates on the intervention procedures. The effectiveness of a vaccine is evaluated through the collected report and the presiding vaccine during the next year is based on that report. This actually helps scientist produce efficient vaccines that will be effective at coping with the disease.

Locally, the community health nurses can conduct campaigns, community workshops and design advertisements that will educate the public about the risks accrued with contracting influenza and the importance of getting vaccinated. Community health is as bigger filed and among the things that fall under its category are funding, reformation policies in schools and direct communication with the public all these are in line with addressing the problem of influenza to the specified community.

Offering comprehensive medical care together with prompt adaptability to the current condition improves the value and the importance of health care nurses for the identified community. Therefore community health nurses play a significant role in eliminating the probability of flu expansion.

Nation Organization Dealing with Influenza

The mortality rate of influenza is very high and this has encouraged government, agencies and non-governmental organizations to come together in the aim of fighting the disease. Among the major players battling influenza are; American Lung Association, World Health Organization, CDC, Response System (GISRS) and others. The World Health Organization (WHO) distributes information concerning prevention of influenza, advocates and makes funding available to the disadvantaged individuals worldwide and has a major role in fighting against the spread of influenza around the world.

Over forty years, WHO has played a significant role in searching for information concerning influenza and its strains that keep on changing from time to time. The information has helped those who produce vaccines by helping them realize the composition of the vaccine and the strains that it should target most.

The global implication of influenza


During flu endemic, anyone from any part of the world can affect but the numbers of deaths that will associate with the infection are different. Statistics show that more people are likely to die from flu and other complications associated with the diseases in developing g countries than in developed countries. Among the reasons for this is lack of proper infrastructure to access health care services, ineffective intervention programs, inadequate medical care, and social factors. the developing countries are responding to the issue of flu by encouraging the preparation of a well thought out planning process, improving the availability of vaccines and antiviral agents, coming up with feasible mitigation techniques and building strong core capacities (Eldredge et al., 2016).

Influenza is not endemic to certain areas as it can occur anywhere in the world thus community have to be cautious and well prepared of the illness.
It is now clear that the only effective toll of dealing with influenza is creating awareness to the public by educating them on the disease and how the vaccine can help reduce the severity of the infection. It is also important to realize the specific group of people that are vulnerable le to the infection so as to conduct the risk assessment and to come up with prevention procedures. Vaccination should not only be administered to children but also to the elderly group as they are prone to complication by the disease.

References


Kwok, C. S., Aslam, S., Kontopantelis, E., Myint, P. K., Zaman, M. J. S., Buchan, I., ... & Mamas, M. A. (2015). Influenza, influenza‐like symptoms and their association with cardiovascular risks: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of observational studies. International journal of clinical practice, 69(9), 928-937.
Hayward, A. C., Fragaszy, E. B., Bermingham, A., Wang, L., Copas, A., Edmunds, W. J., ... & Lim, M. S. (2014). Comparative community burden and severity of seasonal and pandemic influenza: results of the Flu Watch cohort study. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 2(6), 445-454.
Eldredge, L. K. B., Markham, C. M., Ruiter, R. A., Kok, G., & Parcel, G. S. (2016). Planning health promotion programs: an intervention mapping approach. John Wiley & Sons.
Corace, K. M., Srigley, J. A., Hargadon, D. P., Yu, D., MacDonald, T. K., Fabrigar, L. R., & Garber, G. E. (2016). Using behavior change frameworks to improve healthcare worker influenza vaccination rates: a systematic review. Vaccine, 34(28), 3235-3242.
Htway, Z. M., & Hernandez, H. E. (2016). Influenza a Viruses in Artificial Community Water Ponds: Potential for IAV Surveillance. Journal of Natural Sciences, 4(1), 1-24.

© 2018 Jeff Zod

Comments

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    • Erudite Scholar profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Zod 

      7 months ago from Nairobi

      Thanks for the kind words Dora.I really appreciate it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      7 months ago from The Caribbean

      "The agent that causes flu is the disease that provokes or suppresses the bacteria or the microbe." There is so much to know and you have done a great job in informing us. Thanks for a very important lesson.

    • Erudite Scholar profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Zod 

      7 months ago from Nairobi

      Hi Euro, am really sorry about your grandpa.Influenza should not be taken lightly as most people often do.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 months ago from UK

      My grandfather died from complications in a flu outbreak in the 1930s. Your article makes me think that I should reschedule the flu jab I missed yesterday.

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