Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system. It can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, and headaches. Influenza is typically more severe than the common cold and can lead to complications such as pneumonia, particularly in vulnerable populations such as young children, elderly individuals, and those with weakened immune systems.
The flu virus spreads easily through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. It can also be spread by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Types of Influenza
There are 4 main types of influenza viruses that affect humans: influenza A, influenza B, influenza C and influenza D.
Influenza A: This type of influenza virus can infect both animals and humans and is responsible for most seasonal flu outbreaks. Influenza A viruses are further classified based on two proteins on their surface, called hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). There are 18 different H subtypes and 11 different N subtypes, which can combine in different ways to create new strains of the virus.
Influenza B: This type of influenza virus only infects humans and is less common than influenza A. Influenza B viruses are not classified based on H and N subtypes but are instead grouped into two distinct lineages, B/Yamagata and B/Victoria.
Influenza C: This type of influenza virus also only infects humans and typically causes milder respiratory illness. Influenza C viruses do not cause widespread outbreaks like influenza A and B viruses.
Influenza D: It is a type of influenza virus that primarily affects cattle, although it can also infect pigs and other mammals. In humans, influenza D has only been reported in a few isolated cases, and there is currently no evidence to suggest that it can be transmitted between humans.
Prevention of Influenza/Flu
The best way to prevent influenza is to follow preventive measures including washing your hands frequently, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, and staying home when you are sick.
If you do contract the flu, it is important to rest, stay hydrated, and get diagnosed to see if it is flu and nor common cold.
Overall, influenza is a common and serious respiratory illness that can be prevented if diagnosed early and with good hygiene practices.
Influenza Panel/ Flu-Xpert Viral Panel
Flu-Xpert Viral Panel is a diagnostic test that is designed to detect several respiratory viruses including Influenza A, Influenza B, H1N1, H3N2, and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This panel uses a molecular technique known as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to detect viral RNA in respiratory specimens such as nasopharyngeal swabs or bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.
The test is designed to be quick and easy to use, providing results within a few hours. This rapid turnaround time is particularly important during flu season when quick diagnosis can help in the management of outbreaks and in the initiation of appropriate antiviral therapy. The test has a high degree of sensitivity and specificity, meaning it is able to accurately identify the presence or absence of the target viruses.