INFLUENZA

A specific acute respiratory tract illness occurring in epidemics and occasionally pandemics. Influenza virus
strains can be transmitted to humans from animals (pigs, birds) and can occasionally mutate and spread from person to person (e.g. swine flu, or H1N1).

Cause

  • Influenza viruses of several types and strains
  • Spread by droplet inhalation

Clinical features

  • Sudden onset
  • Headache, pain in back and limbs
  • Anorexia, sometimes nausea and vomiting
  • Fever for 2-3 days with shivering
  • Inflamed throat
  • Harsh unproductive cough

Complications

  • Secondary bacterial infection: bronchopneumonia
  • Toxic cardiomyopathy and sudden death

Differential diagnosis

  • Other respiratory viral infections

Investigations

  • Isolation of virus
  • Viral serology to identify virus

Management

If no complications: treat symptoms

  • Paracetamol 1 g every 4-6 hours prn (max: 4 g/day)
    Child: 10 mg/kg per dose

For nasal congestion

  • Use steam inhalation prn
  • Or xylometazoline nose drops 0.05% 2-3 drops into each nostril 3 times daily (max: 5 days)

In the breastfeeding child

  • If blockage interferes with breastfeeding, clean/ clear nose with normal saline
  • Keep child warm
  • Breastfeed more frequently

For troublesome cough

  • Frequent warm drinks, home remedies (honey, ginger)

Prevention

  • Avoid contact with infected persons
  • Inactivated Influenza vaccine yearly (for vulnerable populations)