Virus - General Overview
prepared by Agron Plevneshi
Influenza (commonly known as "the flu") is an acute respiratory
illness caused by one of the family of influenza viruses.
In neonates, persons over the age of 65 years, and those with
chronic medical conditions, influenza can lead to pneumonia,
hospitalization, and even death.
Since influenza was first described by Hippocrates in 412
BC, 31 influenza pandemics (worldwide epidemics) have been
documented. The most devastating of the 20th century influenza
pandemics was that known as the Spanish-flu, which killed
more than 20 million people between 1918-1920. However, every
year, influenza kills between 1,000 and 4,000 Canadians, making
influenza the most common infectious cause of mortality.
Influenza viruses are divided into types A, B and C. Type
C rarely causes illness. Types A and B circulate in human
populations and they constantly change their antigenic coat
to evade the human immune system, resulting in the need for
a new vaccine every year to protect against the most current
circulating virus strains.
Immunization with inactivated flu virus vaccines is the
cornerstone of efforts to reduce the impact of influenza.
Two types of drugs are can also be used to treat and prevent