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Influenza

Background knowledge ๐Ÿง 

Definition

  • A highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses

Epidemiology

  • Seasonal outbreaks during winter months
  • Pandemics can occur with new viral strains (e.g., H1N1 in 2009)

Transmission

  • Respiratory droplets: coughing and sneezing
  • Direct contact: contaminated surfaces

Clinical Features ๐ŸŒก๏ธ

Symptoms

  • Rapid onset
  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle aches and fatigue
  • Cough (usually dry)
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Rhinorrhoea

Signs

  • Coryza
  • Dry cough
  • Small volume lymphadenopathy

Investigations ๐Ÿงช

Investigations

  • Combined nose and throat swab: PCR for virus detection
  • Chest X-ray: if viral pneumonia is suspected or severe disease (influenza can cause a pneumonitis)
  • Blood tests: leukopenia, elevated CRP

Management ๐Ÿฅผ

Initial management

  • Supportive care: rest, hydration, antipyretics
  • Antivirals: oseltamivir or zanamivir may reduce the duration of symptoms if started within 48 hours of symptom onset
  • Antibiotics only if secondary bacterial infection is suspected

Prevention

  • Annual vaccination, especially for high-risk groups (elderly, healthcare workers, chronic medical conditions)
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette (covering mouth/nose when coughing/sneezing).
  • Isolation of infected individuals

Complications

  • Secondary bacterial pneumonia: commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Myositis and rhabdomyolysis
  • Encephalitis and neurological manifestations (rare)
  • Myocarditis and pericarditis
  • Otitis media: especially in children

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