Pathogens

Influenza Virus – Infection, Transmission & Diseases

Influenza virus

The influenza virus is a virus that manifests itself through a respiratory infection . There are different genera of this virus (also called influenza virus ) that belong to the orthomyxoviruses. Depending on the genus of the virus, influenza can be mild or severe.

What is the influenza virus?

Influenza is an infectious disease . Typical of the flu virus is infection in the winter months. Influenza infection is rare in summer. The influenza virus is divided into three different genera. These genera include influenza C, influenza B and influenza A.

In addition to the genera, there are also different subtypes. The subtypes result from the transformation of the virus. Every year the virus changes its surface and thus gains immunity to certain vaccines. Because of this, there are occasional epidemics and rarely pandemics.

Influenza can take a heavy toll on the body. Older and chronically ill people are therefore more likely to be affected by influenza than healthy and younger people. Rarely is an infection with the flu fatal.

Occurrence, Distribution & Properties

The influenza virus can spread around the world. Almost 100 years ago, the Spanish flu killed millions of people. The Asian flu also claimed many lives. There have been other pandemics in Hong Kong and Russia. The last major flu epidemic was in 2009. Almost 20,000 people died as a result of swine flu .

The flu spreads through droplet infection . Close contact with many people increases the risk of catching the flu. Not only direct contact leads to infection with the influenza virus. Indirect contact, such as touching the same objects, can also transmit the virus.

After being infected with the flu, it usually only takes a few days for the infectious disease to break out. Anyone who has contracted the flu is already contagious from the moment of infection. That’s why it’s so easy to spread influenza. Influenza usually lasts a week. Children or people with a weakened immune system may take longer to fight off the flu.

Once infected with the influenza virus, the symptoms are always similar. The sick person feels exhausted and suffers from fever . Infection with the virus often also leads to chills . Influenza infection is characterized by respiratory infection. Those affected therefore complain of a dry cough and breathing problems. Occasionally it happens that the respiratory tract infection develops into pneumonia.

The flu is also accompanied by a cold . In some cases, it can also lead to problems in the gastrointestinal tract . Nausea and vomiting as well as diarrhea are therefore also an indication of the influenza virus. Many people also complain of headaches associated with the flu . If children become infected with the flu virus, there is also a risk of ear infections .

After the infection is over, the symptoms quickly disappear.

Diseases & Ailments

Influenza virus infection is dangerous for children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. The groups of people mentioned usually suffer from more severe symptoms and secondary diseases. Influenza virus infection can result in superinfection . The influenza caused by a virus is thus symptomatically worsened by specific bacteria . Infection with bacteria usually requires the use of antibiotics in order to avoid severe disease progression. A sign that indicates superinfection is present is an increase in weakness and fever.

Pneumonia that has a bacterial origin is particularly serious. If left untreated, bacterial inflammation of the lungs occasionally leads to fatal influenza. People with chronic lung disease are more likely to get bacterial pneumonia than healthy people.

In rare cases, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) can occur. Encephalitis is characterized by severe headaches, nausea and neck stiffness . The patient often complains of tiredness . Seizures are another sign of encephalitis. As a rule, those affected also suffer from confusion .

If the flu is delayed, inflammation of the heart muscle or pericardium often occurs . At the beginning of the inflammation of the heart, there are no symptoms. If the inflammation gets worse, shortness of breath and palpitations are the first signs of a heart problem. If the heart is affected, sudden cardiac arrest occurs in rare cases . Therefore, those affected should take it easy if the heart is involved.

A sign that the infection with the flu virus is a complicated process is the increase in fever. The fever usually falls after four days at the latest. If there is a significant increase in fever after a few days, a doctor should be consulted immediately.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.