Influenza or flu is a common infectious disease caused by the influenza virus. There are four types of influenza virus: Type A, Type B, Type C, and Type D. Three of them affect humans and Type D hasn’t been known to infect humans yet, but it’s likely to have the potential to do so. Flu is mainly spread through the air over short distances. It can also be spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus.
The symptoms of influenza include runny nose, high fever, coughing, headache, joint and muscle pain, and fatigue. In some cases, the flu can cause dangerous complications like severe dehydration, viral pneumonia, and secondary bacterial pneumonia. Since the virus is common and can have serious consequences, it’s important to know certain things about it.
1. The Name of The Disease Indicates its Symptoms
Influenza is an Italian word occurred in 1743 which means “an outbreak of an epidemic”.
The term “flu” comes from the French word “gripper” and the English “grip”, which means “grab” since the disease is sudden and have a severe onset.
2. Money Can Cause Influenza
Did you know that money can cause influenza? Banknotes are a good breeding ground for the infection. The flu virus can live on banknotes for more than two weeks. Therefore, money in some countries is printed on paper with antiseptic properties. There are ATMs in Japan that sterilize bills by heating them 200 degrees Celsius (392 °F).
3. Keto Diet Helps Prevent Flu Attack
Yale University staff found that a keto diet (a very low-carb, high-fat diet) can help prevent the flu. During the experiments, scientists fed some mice regular food, and others with high-fat food. A week later, they injected into the nose of the animals a solution of the influenza virus strain H1N1. All mice from the first group died on the fourth day. But half of those who had a ketogenic diet survived. Blood tests have shown lower levels of the virus in their lungs.
Scientists suggest that high-fat foods help the body produce more T cells and fight the virus more efficiently. However, before going on a keto-diet, consult your gastroenterologist in order to find out whether this diet is appropriate for you.
4. Antipyretic in the Treatment of Flu Can be Dangerous
In most cases, flu causes high fever immediately. But don’t rush to take antipyretic drugs because they will help the virus spread throughout the body. Normal or slightly elevated body temperature provides a favorable environment for the virus. Doctors recommend taking antipyretic for adults only if body temperature reaches 102 ° F.
5. The Flu Virus is Very Tenacious and Mobile
The flu virus is resistant to cold. It can spread and survive even more easily at a temperature of about 32 ° F. That is why most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February. In addition, the virus can be transmitted through the air. When you see a person with influenza symptoms, it is best to keep your distance. If you get the flu, you can spread the virus particles through coughing and sneezing up to three meters around you.
6. Influenza Pandemic
According to scientists, an epidemic of influenza occurs two-three times a century. The first flu epidemic that came to written sources was described by Titus Livius in 212 BC. The most massive influenza pandemic in the history of humanity has become the “Spanish flu”. In 1918, more than 500 million people, or 29.5% of the world’s population, contracted the flu. More precisely, the number of victims of the virus couldn’t be established but according to various sources, the flu epidemic killed at least 100,000 people. The latest pandemic called swine flu occurred in 2009 and affected around 700-1400 million people but had a much lower case fatality rate.
7. The Internet is Able to Predict the Flu Epidemic
Scientists can easily predict the flu epidemic with the help of the Internet. A team at Google realized that such queries as “cold or flu” and “how to treat flu” could be used as indicators of flu levels all around the world.
8. The Best Prevention of the Flu is Vaccination
The most reliable means of preventing flu is vaccination. New versions of vaccines are often developed since the flu virus rapidly changes. Scientists also found a way to create a vaccine for people with a weakened immune system. Such flu shots contain only a few proteins of the flu and therefore they are not able to cause the disease. At the same time, they stimulate the immune system. Vaccination is indicated for all, especially for risk groups – the elderly, children, pregnant women, and those who work in healthcare.
9. It’s not too Late to Get Vaccinated in November
The best time to get a flu shot is in September, October, and November. Moreover, getting the vaccine even in January can also be helpful. It’s best to get it two weeks before the rise in incidence. That is how much time the average body will need to make antibodies that protect from the virus. Timely vaccination increases the effectiveness of protection and the production of antibodies to influenza.