Type A--can cause potentially severe illness leading to widespread epidemics and pandemics. The rapidly changing virus affects such animals as pigs, horses, seals and whales.
Type B--symptoms are usually less severe than for Type A. This strain only affects humans but can cause widespread epidemics leading to hospitalization and, in some cases, death.
Type C--usually causes mild or asymptomatic illness with minimal impact on public health.
Within a few days of exposure symptoms are usually manifested as respiratory illness characterized by drainage, cough and sore throat. These respiratory symptoms are frequently accompanied by an abrupt onset of such other constitutional changes as fever lasting one to five days, headache, malaise, chills, myalgias and sore throat.
At present, health care professionals are focusing on a possible outbreak of one or more of three major types of influenza epidemic: seasonal flu, pandemic flu and avian flu.
While all are due to a specific medium-size virus, these potential outbreaks differ considerably in their severity and heath care implications.
Each year about 5% to 20% of people in the United States will get seasonal flu symptoms, with the highest percentage of these found among young children.
Vaccines must be reformulated each year to combat the various strains. The CDC determines vaccination priorities and at-risk groups.
The best way to prevent getting the flu is by getting your flu shot (or Flu Mist) each year. Practicing good hygiene, washing your hands with antibacterial soap, covering your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or a tissue instead of your hand, and staying home from school or work if you think you might be sick are always great measures to take to further prevent the spread of flu.
It is still not too late to get your flu shot for the 2009 flu season; Visit Passport Health.
Thank you to Peter Rubino, Director of Continuing Professional Education at RxSchool.com, for the information for this blog.