The precautions they should take.
The description will not be weird. The creeps uncomfortable and a strange feeling of joint denounce the bites your arrival.
Quickly, the malaise extends to the whole body, high fever and muscle aches, headache, dry cough, nasal congestion and, sometimes, inflamed eyes.
This isn’t pretty, it is the flu, a viral disease that attacks the respiratory system. In winter, several factors make your appearance and propagation: the low temperatures and the lowest incidence of ultraviolet radiation increases the chances of survival of the virus for long enough to be able to be transmitted from an infected individual to a healthy individual.
Another favourable factor is the fact that we spend a lot of time in enclosed spaces full of people, as the means of collective transport, businesses, schools and kindergartens.
Forms of contagion
The virus is transmitted by particles of saliva from an infected person, expelled mainly by breathing, speech, coughing and sneezing. The incubation period (since if is infected until the first symptoms) is, on average, for two days, but can range between one and five days. The infectious period begins one to two days before the appearance of symptoms and up to seven days after.
According to the Director-General of health, complete recovery usually occurs within a week or two. In the case of the elderly and people with chronic diseases, this tends to be slower and the complications can be more severe.
If you are pregnant, ask your doctor’s advice (and do not take medicines without being under your supervision), but know that the Director-General of health recommends the vaccine for pregnant ‘, in October, are in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, for protection of any serious developments of the disease during pregnancy and to protect their babies during the first months of life».
How to prevent?
Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the flu with maternity sweaters. However, it is recommended only to persons aged 65 or more years old and chronically ill patients or immunocompromised, over six months of age. Also health professionals and other home care providers and institutions must be vaccinated.
The ideal time to take the vaccine, under medical prescription, is October, though this can be administered in all the months of autumn and winter. Should not vaccinate people with allergies to egg protein, or who have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of influenza vaccine.
The composition of the vaccine
According to Helena Rebelo de Andrade, virologist, «the vaccine composition is decided taking into account the information, genetic and antigenic cartography (spatial and temporal relationship evolving trends in virus analysis) strains of influenza viruses circulating globally. This information is coupled with Virologic clinical and epidemiological data on flu activity in different countries and regions.
After the analysis and integration of all this information, decides which viral strains that, most likely, will confer immunity to individuals vaccinated against flu viruses circulating in the population in each winter».
Thus, the flu vaccine is different every year. If not included in the risk group cited above, the measures of prevention of influenza go through simple habits which ideally should also be taken by anyone who has the flu and that can make all the difference.
Wash your hands often is one of them. Another is to avoid sneeze or cough into the air, protecting the mouth with a handkerchief or the forearm.
Text: Paula Alberty with Helena Rebelo de Andrade (virologist)
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