ISLAMABAD: Following a surge in influenza cases in different parts of the country, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has issued an advisory, asking authorities to counter the spread of the viral infection. All health professionals have been advised to meticulously try and detect suspected influenza-like illnesses as well as severe acute respiratory infections.
Influenza — more commonly referred to as the seasonal flu — is usually a self-limiting disease, which means everyone doesn’t need antiviral treatment or diagnostic tests. It is highly contagious however, and can spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. The virus can contaminate hands as well as many other surfaces. Patients with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes, cardiac and lung disorders, are all at high risk. Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under the age of five are also prone to developing severe or complicated viral infections that may require specific medical interventions.
According to the NIH, vaccination is the most effective way of preventing the infection. The World Health Organisation recommends seasonal influenza vaccination for pregnant women, children aged 6-59 months, the elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions and health care workers.
The advisory also emphasises that simple preventive measures like washing hands, wearing a mask, employing cough etiquette and vaccination can limit the spread of the virus. The advisory also highlights that the Field Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Division of the NIH regularly monitors the situation and has also issued seasonal awareness and alert letters for doctors concerning the spread of the virus.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2018