Influenza Essay

How to do a research paper on Prevention of flu

Published under category: Academic Paper Writing | 2015-06-26 04:47:18 UTC

Context: Influenza Epidemics

WHO Influenza Epidemic: Southern hemisphere2010 Statistics


Writing an essay on flu is can be easy. Influenza virus causes flu in most cases. This inflammatory disease if actually the most prevalent symptomatic ailment, making it a prime target topic to do an essay on. However, it can be difficult to do a paper on flu if you do not have time to research and type. In that case, assignment writing service will do a paper on flu for you.

Flu is steadily becoming a serious illness due to ignorance that is displayed by people who get affected by it. In most occasions, those affected by flu simply take a one or two week break to stay at home instead of seeking medication. This behavior has resulted in the spread of flu to a large part of the population. It is predicted that if the right precautions are not taken, one out of five people will be affected by flu during the flu seasons. Most people are assuming that flu is a mild disease that does not require any medication. However, it can get serious when one has health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, asthma or a weakened immune system. Statistics reveal that approximately 3,000 to 50,000 people die each year from flu (Flu.GOV, n.p.). This report, therefore, seeks to recommend ways in which flu can be prevented. The major cause of the spread of flu among the populations is ignorance. The report, therefore, recommends that health campaigns be conducted that teach the population about everyday preventive actions that can be followed to help prevent germs like flu. The report also recommends that the government provides free vaccination for flu in every fall in order to prevent the severity of the flu seasons.

The Flu problem

Seasonal flu is an illness that is caused by three types of viruses that include influenza A, B and C. The flu season occurs from October to April, during the winter period. In most instances, people affected by flu choose to take a bed rest or buy over-the-counter medications in order to relieve the symptoms (CDC, n.p.). Symptoms of flu include a runny nose, sore throat, cough and congestion. Other symptoms are headache, fever and muscle soreness in severe cases. It is estimated that flu results in approximately 3,000 to 50,000 deaths in every flu season, depending on the severity (Flu.GOV, n.p.). Flu becomes severe in cases where the affected persons have other health conditions that may include diabetes, asthma, heart conditions or other related ailments.

To limit the spread and effects of flu, people have the option of getting vaccination, buying over-the counter cold medications or seeking medication or advice from their doctors. Flu vaccines are given in two forms. One can choose either a flu shot or nasal spray. The flu shot is recommended for persons from the age of 6 to 64 years while the nasal spray can be used by persons from 2 to 49 years. The vaccine introduces a weakened form of flu virus, which helps in building immunity. It is administered annually before the start of the winter season. When one is already affected by the flu, they can take over-the-counter flu medications or seek medication from their doctors in case the condition is severe. The nasal spray should never be administered to women who are pregnant.

The spread of flu virus can be prevented by practicing preventive actions. The preventive actions are practices every day, and their help in creating a germ barrier. The health experts note that the flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective hence people should also take measures that help in reducing the spread of the virus (WebMD, n.p). Therefore, the prevention practices recommended include washing hands regularly, covering one’s mouth while coughing, limit contact with the sick persons, avoid touching the face unless one has clean hands, avoid contact with other people when sick and keep common surface areas disinfected or clean (University Health Sevices, n.p.). Flu viruses have the capability of living for around 48 hours on surfaces like door knobs, desks, phones, light switches and keyboards. One should, therefore, make sure that such areas are sanitized using disinfectants. One should also wash their hands using warm water and soap frequently because they cannot avoid touching such areas.


  1. Flu shots should be provided for free by the government each year before the winter season. This should be done through health centers and dispensaries.
  2. Campaigns be conducted to popularize flu shots.
  3. People should be encouraged to wash their hands frequently so as to avoid the risk of harboring the flu virus.
  4. Cover one’s mouth while coughing by using a handkerchief or the hands.
  5. Avoid touching the face unless one has clean hands.
  6. The sick should stay at home.
  7. Keep common surface areas like door knobs, desks, phones and switches disinfected.           



Provision of free vaccination and conducting health campaigns to teach people about preventive actions will help reduce the number of infections and deaths that occur during the flu seasons. Combining vaccination with preventive actions offers the best chance of reducing the spread of the flu. People will, therefore, be able to go about their businesses without the fear of infection. However, in case one is affected, they should see their doctors for further advice. I offer to provide assistance to ensure that my recommendations are implemented successfully in case they are adopted.

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    Clinical Features of Influenza

    Influenza, commonly called "the flu," is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract. Compared with most other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, influenza infection often causes a more severe illness. Typical clinical features of influenza include fever (usually 100oF to 103oF in adults and often even higher in children) and respiratory symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, runny or

    stuffy nose, as well as headache, muscle aches, and often extreme fatigue. Although nausea, vomiting, and

    diarrhea can sometimes accompany influenza infection, especially in children, gastrointestinal

    symptoms are rarely prominent. The term "stomach flu" is a misnomer that is sometimes used to describe gastrointestinal illnesses caused by other microorganisms.

    Most people who get the flu recover completely in 1 to 2 weeks, but some people develop

    serious and potentially lifethreatening medical complications, such as pneumonia. In an

    average year, influenza is associated with about 20,000 deaths nationwide and many more

    hospitalizations. Flu related complications can occur at any age; however,the elderly and

    people with chronic health problems are much more likely to develop serious complications

    after influenza infection than are younger, healthier people.

    The Influenza Viruses

    Influenza viruses are divided into three types, designated A, B, and C. Influenza types A

    and B are responsible for epidemics of respiratory illness that occur almost every winter

    and are often associated with increased rates for hospitalization and death. Influenza type

    C differs from types A and B in some important ways. Type C infection usually causes

    either a very mild respiratory illness or no symptoms at all; it does not cause epidemics

    and does not have the severe public health impact that influenza types A and B do. Efforts

    to control the impact of influenza are aimed at types A and B, and the remainder of this

    discussion will be devoted only to these two types.

    Influenza viruses continually change over time, usually by mutation. This constant

    changing enables the virus to evade the immune system of its host, so that people are

    susceptible to influenza virus infection throughout life. This process works as follows: a

    person infected with influenza virus develops antibody against that virus; as the virus

    changes, the "older" antibody no longer recognizes the "newer" virus, and reinfection can

    occur. The older antibody can, however, provide partial protection against reinfection.

    Currently, three different influenza strains circulate worldwide: two type A viruses and one

    type B. Type A viruses are divided into subtypes based on differences in two viral proteins

    called the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N). The current subtypes of influenza

    A are designated A(H1N1) and A(H3N2).

    Influenza type A viruses undergo two kinds of changes. One is a series of mutations that

    occur over time and cause a gradual evolution of the virus. This is called antigenic "drift."

    The other kind of change is an abrupt change in the hemagglutinin and/or the

    neuraminidase proteins. This is called antigenic "shift." In this case, a new subtype of the

    virus suddenly emerges. Type A viruses undergo both kinds of changes; influenza type B

    viruses change only by the more gradual process of antigenic drift.

    Natural History of Human Influenza

    Influenza A and B viruses continually undergo antigenic drift. This process accounts for

    most of the changes that occur in the viruses from one influenza season to another.

    Antigenic shift occurs only occasionally. When it does occur, large numbers of people,

    and sometimes the entire population, have no antibody protection against the virus. This

    results in a worldwide epidemic, called a pandemic. During this century, pandemics

    occurred in 1918, 1957, and 1968, each of which resulted in large numbers of deaths, as

    noted below.

    Mortality associated with pandemics:

    1918-19 "Spanish flu" A(H1N1) -- Caused the highest known influenza-related

    mortality: approximately 500,000 deaths occurred in the United States, 20 million


    1957-58 "Asian flu" A(H2N2) -- 70,000 deaths in the United States.

    1968-69 "Hong-Kong flu" A(H3N2) -- 34,000 deaths in the United States.

    The emergence of the "Hong Kong flu" in 1968-69 marked the beginning of the type

    A(H3N2) era. When this virus first emerged, it was associated with lower mortality than

    that caused by the two previous pandemic viruses. Several possible reasons for this lower

    mortality have been hypothesized. First, only the hemagglutinin changed from the "Asian"

    strain [type A(H2N2)]; the neuraminidase (N2) stayed the same, and therefore existing

    antibody could be expected to offer some protection. A second possibility is suggested by

    evidence that a virus with a similar hemagglutinin may have circulated from the late 1890s

    to the early 1900s. If this were the case, people who were in their sixties and older in 1968

    may have had some protection from antibody acquired in their youth.

    There are still many things about influenza viruses that are not understood. Although the

    newly emerged type A(H3N2) virus caused only moderate mortality in 1968 compared with

    other pandemic viruses, this virus has continued to cause substantial mortality as it has

    continued to circulate and evolve. In the years since its emergence, type A(H3N2)

    epidemics have caused approximately 400,000 deaths in the United States alone, and

    more than 90% of these deaths have occurred among elderly people. Of the influenza

    viruses currently in worldwide circulation, A(H3N2) still has the most severe overall impact.

    The other influenza A subtype currently in circulation, type A(H1N1), also has an

    interesting history. After the devastating pandemic of 1918-19, this subtype continued to

    circulate and undergo antigenic drift. It periodically caused large epidemics, but never on

    the scale of the 1918-19 pandemic. When the "Asian" strain [(A(H2N2)] emerged in 1957,

    the A(H1N1) viruses disappeared (as did the A(H2N2) viruses when the "Hong Kong" virus

    emerged in 1968). In 1977, the A(H1N1) viruses reappeared and have cocirculated with

    A(H3N2) viruses ever since. However, the impact of A(H1N1) has been different during its

    most recent appearance. The virus that reappeared in 1977 was virtually identical to an

    A(H1N1) virus that circulated in 1950. Therefore, most people born before 1950 were

    immune, and epidemics caused by A(H1N1) viruses since 1977 have primarily affected

    younger people. The fact that the elderly appear to have natural protection against current

    A(H1N1) viruses probably explains the low mortality associated with recent epidemics in

    which this subtype was the predominant strain. However, as A(H1N1) viruses continue to

    evolve, they could begin to have a more severe impact on the elderly.

    Influenza Vaccine

    Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza

    vaccination. Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for people who are at high risk

    for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection. These highrisk

    groups include all people aged 65 years or older and people of any age with chronic

    diseases of the heart, lung or kidneys, diabetes, immunosuppression, or severe forms of

    anemia. Other groups for whom vaccine is specifically recommended are residents of

    nursing homes and other chroniccare facilities housing patients of any age with chronic

    medical conditions, and children and teenagers who are receiving longterm aspirin therapy

    and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus

    infection. Influenza vaccine is also recommended for people who are in close or frequent

    contact with anyone in the highrisk groups defined above. These people include health care

    personnel and volunteers who work with highrisk patients and people who live in a

    household with a highrisk person.

    Although annual influenza vaccination has long been recommended for people in the

    highrisk groups, many still do not receive the vaccine. Some people are not vaccinated

    because of misperceptions about influenza and the vaccine. They mistakenly perceive

    influenza as merely a nuisance and believe that the vaccine causes unpleasant side

    effects or that it may even cause the flu. The truth is that influenza vaccine causes no side

    effects in most people. The most serious side effect that can occur after influenza

    vaccination is an allergic reaction in people who have severe allergy to eggs, since the

    viruses used in the vaccine are grown in hens' eggs. For this reason, people who have an

    allergy to eggs should not receive influenza vaccine.

    Less than onethird of those who receive vaccine have some soreness at the vaccination

    site, and about 5% to 10% experience mild side effects, such as headache or low-grade

    fever for about a day after vaccination. These side effects are most likely to occur in

    children who have not been exposed to influenza virus in the past.

    Nevertheless, some older people remember earlier influenza vaccines that did, in fact,

    produce more unpleasant side effects. Vaccines produced from the 1940s to the mid1960s

    were not as highly purified as modern influenza vaccines, and it was these impurities that

    caused most of the side effects. Since the side effects associated with these early

    vaccines, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue, were similar to some of the

    symptoms of influenza, people believed that the vaccine had caused them to get the flu.

    However, influenza vaccine produced in the United States has never been capable of

    causing influenza. The only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United

    States to the present time is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause

    infection. An influenza vaccine that is made with live influenza viruses has been developed

    and may be marketed in the future. This vaccine is made with viruses that can confer

    immunity but do not cause classic influenza symptoms.

    Some people do not receive influenza vaccine because they believe it is not very effective.

    There are several different reasons for this belief. People who have received influenza

    vaccine may subsequently have an illness that is mistaken for influenza, and they believe

    that the vaccine failed to protect them. In other cases, people who have received vaccine

    may indeed have an influenza infection. Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to

    year, depending upon thedegree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in

    the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season. Because

    the vaccine strains must be chosen 9 to 10 months before the influenza season, and

    because influenza viruses mutate over time, sometimes mutations occur in the circulating

    strains between the time vaccine strains are chosen and the next influenza season is over.

    These mutations sometimes reduce the ability of the vaccineinduced antibody to inhibit the

    newly mutated virus, thereby reducing vaccine efficacy.

    Vaccine efficacy also varies from one person to another. Studies of healthy young adults

    have shown influenza vaccine to be 70% to 90% effective in preventing illness. In the

    elderly and those with certain chronic medical conditions, the vaccine is often less effective

    in preventing illness than in reducing the severity of illness and the risk of serious

    complications and death. Studies have shown the vaccine to reduce hospitalization by

    about 70% and death by about 85% among the elderly who are not in nursing homes.

    Among nursing home residents, vaccine can reduce the risk of hospitalization by about

    50%, the risk of pneumonia by about 60%, and the risk of death by 75% to 80%. When

    antigenic drift results in the circulating virus becoming different from the vaccine strain,

    overall efficacy may be reduced, especially in preventing illness, but the vaccine is still

    likely to lessen the severity of the illness and to prevent complications and death.

    Why the Vaccine Must Be Taken Every Year

    Although only a few different influenza viruses circulate at any given time, people continue

    to become ill with the flu throughout their lives. The reason for this continuing susceptibility

    is that influenza viruses are continually changing, usually as a result of mutations in the

    viral genes. Currently, there are three different influenza virus strains, and the vaccine

    contains viruses representing each strain. Each year the vaccine is updated to include the

    most current influenza virus strains. The fact that influenza viruses continually change is

    one of the reasons vaccine must be taken every year. Another reason is that antibody

    produced by the host in response to the vaccine declines over time, and antibody levels

    are often low one year after vaccination.

    When To Receive Influenza Vaccine

    In the United States, influenza usually occurs from about November until April. Typically,

    activity is very low until December, and peak activity most often occurs between January

    and March. Influenza vaccine should be administered between September and

    midNovember. The optimal time for organized vaccination programs for persons at high risk

    for influenzarelated medical complications is usually the period from October to

    midNovember. It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza

    to develop and provide protection.

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