With people increasingly catching the seasonal flu virus, doctors have advised people to stay clear of colleagues with running nose, cough, cold and those sneezing.
There has been an increase in flu-related illnesses during October, mainly due to change in weather.
“The number of influenza cases have increased as it is highly infectious and can go up further if no precautions are taken by those affected with the virus,” said Dr Mazen Riad Naba, Specialist Internal Medicine, Medcare Hospital, Dubai.
Influenza is a viral infection transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person through secretions from the nose and lungs, such as sneezing discharge.
Some of the symptoms are a rise in temperature and physical fatigue and soreness in the muscles.
According to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), influenza viruses are classified into three types and flu can be worse than common cold. “Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes,” says a health awareness notice by the Dubai Health Authority.
“The best way to prevent catching flu is by being vaccinated each year,” it adds. Vaccinations are available in any of the government hospitals. Vaccination is especially important for people over 50 years of age and older, children from the age of six months to eighteen years, individuals who suffer from chronic diseases (such as diabetes, liver disease, asthma and nasal allergies, etc), pregnant women and those working in the health sector.
The DHA has made it compulsory for all medical professionals to take an annual shot of vaccination. “We take it every September,” added Naba. However, people who have a severe allergy to chicken, eggs and allergy for this vaccine or people who have a moderate-to-severe illness with fever should not take the vaccination.
According to the DHA there is influenza viruses continually change due to the changes in the genes of viruses. “It is important to take the vaccination every year as the antibodies become less after a year of vaccination. Influenza vaccination should be taken annually before the start of the season in September. The optimal time for vaccination programmes for people who are prone to complications of the disease is usually between October until mid-November. Only after a week or two after taking the vaccination, will the antibodies begin to provide protection.
Doctors have also advised those affected to prevent the spread of germs by ensuring to wash hands regularly with soap and use tissues to cover one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and dispose the tissues in a bin as soon as possible.