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Yearly Vaccination Of Humans For Influenza Viruses Is Necessary Because
There are four types of influenza virus. Influenza A is the most common, followed by influenza B. Both are highly contagious, and their symptoms are similar.Influenza, also known as the flu, is a viral respiratory illness that is most prevalent during fall and winter months. These viruses can spread when a person with the infection sneezes or coughs and droplets travel to another person’s nose or mouth.The flu is different from the common cold. It can cause severe illness and worsen some chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. In some cases, it can lead to death.Read this article to learn more about the types of flu and their symptoms and treatments.There are four types of influenza virus.Influenza A Influenza A viruses cause seasonal flu epidemics practically every year in the United States. They can infect humans and animals.Influenza A is the only type that can cause a pandemic, which is a global spread of disease. Bird flu and swine flu pandemics both resulted from influenza A viruses.An influenza A virus has two surface proteins: hemagglutinin and neuraminidase. These help doctors with classification.Influenza BInfluenza B viruses can also cause seasonal epidemics that typically only affect humans. There are two lineages of influenza B: Victoria and Yamagata.Influenza B viruses mutate more slowly than influenza A viruses.Influenza C Influenza C viruses cause mild illnesses — they do not appear to cause epidemics.Influenza DInfluenza D viruses mainly affect cattle and do not seem to infect humans.Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they vary from person to person.Common symptoms of the flu include:Some people experience severe symptoms, which can include:chest painshortness of breathsevere painsevere weaknessa high feverseizuressevere dizzinessloss of consciousnessA person who experiences any severe symptom should receive medical attention.Influenza A and B differ in terms of how common they are.PrevalenceAccording to researchers, influenza A viruses are responsible for about 75% of confirmed flu cases, while influenza B viruses are behind approximately 25% of confirmed cases.ContagiousnessBoth influenza A and B are highly contagious.When a person with the flu coughs or sneezes, droplets can enter another person’s nose or mouth, transmitting the illness.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu viruses can infect others from up to 6 feet away.Alternately, a person can catch the flu if they touch a surface contaminated with the flu virus, then touch their own mouth or nose.The CDC report that people with the flu are the most contagious in the 3–4 days after becoming ill. Symptoms tend to develop 2 days after the illness starts, so a person may pass on the flu before they feel sick.SeverityFor a person who is generally healthy, the flu is not typically dangerous. However, it can severely affect certain groups of people, who should seek medical attention as soon as they suspect that they have flu symptoms.Those most at risk of developing flu complications include:women who are pregnantpeople with certain chronic medical conditionschildren younger than 5adults aged 65 or overMany people believe that influenza A is more severe than influenza B. However, this is not always the case.A 2014 study concluded that adults hospitalized with influenza A or B tended to have similarly long hospital stays. They also had similar rates of intensive care unit admission and death during hospitalization.A 2016 study found that the influenza B virus was more likely to cause death in hospitalized children aged 16 or younger.The researchers also concluded that children aged 10–16 years with this type of virus were more likely to be admitted to intensive care units, compared with those who had influenza A.Many people find that home remedies can help ease flu symptoms, but prescription antiviral medication may be a good idea for people with a high risk of complications or severe symptoms.Home remediesTo reduce flu symptoms at home:drink plenty of fluidsget plenty of resttake over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve any painAntiviral medicationsAntiviral medications are available by prescription only. They can shorten the duration of symptoms or prevent complications, such as pneumonia.Antivirals can especially benefit people with a greater risk of flu complications, including young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic illnesses.Antiviral medications work best when a person takes them within 1–2 days of symptoms starting.There are a few different types of antivirals for the flu, including:oseltamivirzanamivirperamivirbaloxavir marboxilThese can come in pill, liquid, inhalable powder, or intravenous forms.The following can help prevent a person from catching or spreading the flu:limiting contact with sick peoplestaying home when illcovering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughingwashing the hands oftendisinfecting surfaces that may contain flu germsavoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouthwearing a mask when leaving the houseThe best method of prevention is to receive a flu vaccination every year. The flu vaccine can come as an injection or a nasal spray.According to a 2017 study, the vaccine may reduce the risk of in-hospital deaths from the flu, prevent associated intensive care unit hospitalization, and reduce the duration of related hospital stays.There are four types of influenza virus, and influenza A and B are the most common.While many people recover from the flu with home remedies, influenza A and B can each cause serious illness and death in people with a high risk of complications.There is no cure for the flu, but rest and drinking fluids can help ease symptoms. Antiviral medications may also help shorten the duration of the illness.People who experience severe flu symptoms or any complications should receive medical attention.
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Antigenic Drift: How the Influenza Virus Adapts
Why do we need a flu vaccine every year? You might know that influenza virus changes. Find out more about these changes in this animation that describes the concepts of antigenic drift and shift. While our immune systems regularly protect us from viruses after vaccination or infection, influenza virus survives by mutating regularly. These small accumulating changes are called “antigenic drift.” Influenza virus can also undergo extreme mutations, such as when human and bird flu genes combine at random inside a pig cell. This is called “antigenic shift.” The dramatic changes caused by antigenic shift create a new flu virus — one with pandemic potential.
Play a Kahoot! trivia game based on this animation. Visit http://www.vaccinemakers.org/trivia.
Did you know that Dr. Maurice Hilleman was the first person to identify antigenic shift and drift? He was also the first person in history to predict and avert an influenza pandemic. This accomplishment earned Dr. Hilleman the American military’s Distinguished Service Medal. Watch a clip from the documentary, “HILLEMAN: A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children,” to learn more: https://youtu.be/d1HKc8LKcyY.
Animation created by and for the Vaccine Makers Project.
The Vaccine Makers Project gratefully acknowledges the ongoing collaboration and partnership with XVIVO, creator of medical animations and scientific media: https://xvivo.com.
Copyright © 2016, Medical History Pictures, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Vaccine Makers Project (VMP) is the classroom-based program of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (VEC at CHOP). The Center’s team is composed of scientists, physicians, mothers and fathers devoted to the study and prevention of infectious diseases. The Center was launched in October 2000 to provide accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent. The VMP program is committed to public education about vaccine science via scientifically supported, historically accurate, and emotionally compelling content.
Access the VMP’s free classroom materials: http://www.VaccineMakers.org.
Find information and resources related to vaccines and their safety: http://vaccine.chop.edu.
Learn more about the award-winning documentary for which the original animations were created. The documentary tells the compelling story of one of the world’s most accomplished scientists, Maurice Hilleman: http://www.HillemanFilm.com.
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