Influenza, also known as flu is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus that attacks the respiratory system of humans. It is also transmissible by droplets spreading from one infected person to another by just sneezing, coughing or talking. There are four types of influenza viruses: influenza A, B, C, and D, but only influenza A and B viruses cause clinically essential human disease and seasonal epidemics. Influenza causes symptoms corresponding to, but further severe than, the common cold, such as sudden onset of fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose and feeling unwell. Most people recover within week without medical treatment1, but the flu can cause serious complications, including pneumonia. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), these annual epidemics cause 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 290 000 to 650 000 respiratory deaths around the globe. Vaccines are used to prevent oneself from the influenza virus and further treatment to cure the infection.
PATIENT CONDITION AND SYMPTOMS
Influenza is a rare case for adult. However, regular older individuals of age more than 65 years old are prone to suffer from influenza. Besides, children (infant) are also susceptible to influenza mainly below than 2 years old. Pregnant women (up to two weeks from childbirth) likely to get influenza including individuals with chronic health conditions such as heart, lung, kidney, liver and metabolic disease (diabetes mellitus) and reduced immunity because of HIV/AIDS, cancer (leukemia) or post medication such as chemotherapy or radiation treatment can be causes to encounter “the flu” including those who are extremely obese with Body Mass Index over 40.
The flu can appear in many kinds of symptoms across one’s body in different ways. Early symptoms usually appear 1 to 4 days after becoming infected. The general symptoms is bad fever with high body temperature over 38°C and chills. Some could have headaches which lead to confusion. Usually elderly having these sort of confusion and shortness of breath since the feverish sign may be absent in them. At the respiratory parts, individuals might have dry cough and sore throat. Rhinorrhea (runny nose) and nasal congestion sometimes present to someone who having influenza as well. In children, gastrointestinal symptoms may more likely to appear such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and nausea. Moreover, Myalgia (muscle pain) could occur, they would feel aches in their joints, which causes fatigue or tiredness of whole body in performing daily tasks. Other side symptoms including earache, reddened or watering eyes, hoarseness, chest pain and sneezing could present too.
VACCINES AND TREATMENTS
Vaccination is the most convincing way in inhibiting influenza. Immunity developed in one seasonal influenza is not really sufficient to provide protection in future years mainly because of waning immunity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly suggests flu vaccination for everyone age 6 months or older annually. Vaccinations against influenza are advised particularly for everyone from the high risk group. There are specifically two types of vaccinations; the flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine. WHO suggests on the trivalent vaccine flu shot made from inactive influenza that aims the three most representative virus types in circulation (two subtypes of influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus). After 2013, Quadrivalent vaccines is developed and used which include a second influenza B virus in addition to the viruses in trivalent vaccines, and are predicted to produce wider defence against influenza B virus infections. These inactivated and recombinant influenza vaccines are in the form of injection. Nasal spray made from weakened influenza virus vaccine and suitable for children of age 2-17 years old.
There are three antiviral medications have been used to treat or prevent influenza infection for patients that are not from a high risk group. Oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir from the neuraminidase inhibitors group and can be utilized for the treatment of influenza A and B. The adamantanes antiviral set; amantadine, and rimantadine which are effective against influenza A, but not influenza B. Lastly, newly approved in 2018 Cap-dependent endonuclease inhibitors like Baloxavir Marboxil also treats influenza virus A and B3.
Towards the end of 2017, researchers from the National Institute Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) were discussing about challenges on influenza vaccine when its effectiveness reduced because of unsuited seasons and mutation in chicken eggs used to develop the vaccine. They suggested to develop a “universal” influenza vaccine, which would eliminate the annual shots required and durable defence against multiple influenza subtypes—pandemic and seasonal. Early 2018, NIAID reveals strategic plan for developing a universal influenza vaccine by focusing on key aspects of influenza research; enhancing the comprehension of the transmission, natural history and pathogenesis of influenza infection; precisely characterizing how protective influenza immunity happens and how to tailor vaccination responses to achieve it. In 2019, NIAID, part of the National Institute of Health (NIH) begins First-in-Human Trial of an innovative Universal Influenza Vaccine known as H1ssF_3928 which is designed to instruct the body to create protective immune responses against heterogenous influenza subtypes by focusing the immune system on a part of the virus.10 There are also other examples of recent research on vaccines like the onset of clinical trials for H7N9 Influenza Vaccine, Antibiotics weaken flu defenses in the lung, the reveal of NIH-Supported Study on a Novel Indicator of Influenza Immunity.
OPINION ON FUTURE OF INFLUENZA
In 10 years, I think that vaccines will be improved not just durable protection but one shot for a lifetime by keep developing newly microneedle skin patch that really helps those with needle phobia, especially children which can be used widely as flu vaccine. If that happens, influenza epidemics can be inhibit easily from spreading since the patch can be produced abundantly in short time rather than using needle injection and can be more effective if it is made from beneficial plant-based cure like Echinacea. When healthcare cost can be reduced, people can afford treatment in this highly living cost days. Moreover, it would be easier to supply it any regions across the world when it based on plant where we can undergo plantation . I am sure it is quite hard to eradicate the flu virus completely since they mutating continuously but we can use the problem as part of our solutions. If we are able to develop these patches with once for a lifetime vaccination, I predict that we can reduce numerous infected individuals and death. I would like to see the sample epidemics virus is used to grow our own tougher immune system with the patch. I wish Influenza will be part of undangerous diseases that we do not have to worry about alongside upcoming medical-invention technologies and mortality can be avoided in the future.