After two years (2020 and 2021) with practically no presence of the flu among us, the virus has returned with more force than ever, although it has done so slightly displaced in time. Before the pandemic, the flu began its wave around the month of January, with a maximum peak in February and lasting at most until March.
Well, once the sixth wave of covid-19 began to subside after the last Christmas holidays, and coinciding with the maximum relaxation of anti-contagion measures (including the removal of masks indoors), influenza A, specifically the H3N2 variant, “has returned, although one or two months later,” says Neus Rius, infectious pediatrician at the Hospital Sant Joan de Reus, who adds that “it started in March, it was rising and the peak incidence occurred in the middle of last April. Now the outbreak is going down.”
This delay, according to this pediatrician, may be due to several factors. «On the one hand, for not having had and for the hygienic measures, which have been relaxing. Then there is another issue and that is that viral interference is not defined. When a virus has a certain incidence, the others do not act the same, and now that the covid has gone down, the flu has gone up », she adds.
Rius clarifies that “in principle it is not a more virulent flu, at least in children. To a large extent, because we have been two years without contact with the virus and it is like a reset.
In the case of children, and also of adults, this influenza A presents “with a very high fever that can last up to a week, and in the smallest it can give a catarrhal picture and an intestinal clinic, like any other virus” , assures this pediatrician from Hospital Sant Joan, who adds that “in slightly older children, the symptoms tend to be a little more like those of adults, with muscle pain, general malaise, etc.”
Influenza A or influenza A is one of the main types of influenza that appears each year. This flu can be caused by two variants of the influenza A virus, H1N1 and H3N2, the latter being the one circulating this spring.
The most common signs and symptoms include fever (above 38ºC and suddenly), body aches, sore throat, headache, cough, sneezing, chills, shortness of breath, and fatigue or tiredness.
In addition to these symptoms and constant discomfort, diarrhea and some vomiting may also occur, especially in children, which resolve over time.
How to know if it is influenza A?
Although the symptoms of influenza A are very similar to those of the common flu, they tend to be more aggressive and intense and usually appear suddenly, forcing the individual to rest for a few days.
In addition to this, influenza A is highly contagious, being transmitted very easily from one person to another. If you suspect that you may have this flu, it is recommended to wear a mask and go to the doctor, so that he or she can order diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of the virus.
What is the difference between H1N1 and H3N2?
The main difference between Influenza A caused by H1N1 or H3N2 is the virus itself that causes the infection, however, the symptoms, treatment and transmission are similar. These two types of virus are present in the flu vaccine, together with Influenza B, and for this reason, whoever gets vaccinated annually is protected against the flu.
It is important to mention that the H3N2 virus is often confused with H2N3, another type of virus that does not affect humans, and is only transmitted between animals. In fact, there is no vaccine or treatment against the H2N3 virus, but only because this virus does not affect humans.
How is the treatment carried out?
The treatment for influenza A is carried out with antiviral drugs such as Oseltamivir or Zanamivir, presenting better results if it is started in the first 48 hours after the symptoms appear. Your doctor may also recommend symptom-relieving medications such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, and/or bromhexine, for example, to relieve symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough, or muscle pain. To complement the treatment, in addition to the medications, it is necessary to rest and increase the consumption of water and liquids to hydrate the body.
When should I get vaccinated?
To avoid getting the flu, the influenza vaccine is available, also called the flu vaccine, which protects the body against the most common viruses such as H1N1 or H3N2 and Influenza B. It is especially indicated for some groups of risk, which present a greater probability of becoming infected, such as adults over 65 years of age, immunosuppressed people, chronically ill people, children under 2 years of age or pregnant women.
How to avoid getting infected?
To avoid transmitting influenza A, there are some measures that can be taken to avoid contagion, it being recommended to avoid closed places or places with many people; wash your hands regularly; always cover your nose and mouth if you need to cough or sneeze and; Avoid contact with people who have symptoms of this flu.