With every season change, there is a risk of catching the flu. It is not easy to predict who will get affected by it and how bad the effect of the same will be on these people. There are many of us who wonder what makes flu outbreak so much worse for some compared to others?
A recent study shows that with the onset of winter there is a huge increase in the number of people who get affected by the flu. The number drastically increased over the last decades and many people have started to fall ill in countries like UK and Australia amongst many others.
In a recent report which was undertaken in the UK showed that over the past few years this year has been the worst for people getting infected by flu. The past seven years record when compared showed a bad state and clearly shows a 40% increase in the number of patients who have complained of flu. They have been seen visiting the GPs in England and the situation in the other parts is no good either. The places like Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have a similar story to tell. The current situation greatly depicts that it is going to get worse in the coming months.
To understand why the situation is so bad to let us first understand what these viruses are?
There are majorly three types of flu virus
- Type A
- Type B
- Type C
All of them have different strains and the current reports have shown that most of the patients which are being treated are affected by type B virus. The virus A is the most lethal of them all and is caught by humans from animals. The trouble and worrisome news this winter is that UK is facing many cases of strain A influence and Aussie flu.
The earlier strain H1N1 which has been affected the people for past two years is known to be less severe than the H3N2 strain which is affecting the population now.
What makes flu so unpredictable?
The viruses of the flu are always present in the environment and compete to infect people. They pass on from one body form to another infecting as many of them as they get in touch with. The strains which are dominant become successful in affected as many people as possible. It is a very challenging job to know which virus will become dominant in any given season. It is often seen that the viruses that are dominant every season are different from the prior year’s keeping the mystery unresolved. Like for this year, the main flu virus infecting the maximum population is very different from previous years. These viruses evolve in a continuous manner when they move from one person to the other. They change the appearance in such a way that the body’s immune system is not able to recognize them and it falls prey to them.
It is common knowledge that when the people receive the vaccination for the flu then fewer people will get that flu. The vaccination also in most cases reduces the effect, for example, people will be less likely to get severely affected and hospitalized post vaccination. There is also less risk of the same spreading to others when the vaccination is given to the larger population.
The job of the scientist in such situation is very critical they need to understand which flu will be affecting the population and they have to start the manufacturing of the medicines in advance. It takes about eight to nine months to get the vaccination ready for the population and the biggest problem they face is that the virus keeps evolving.
Even if a minor strain changes then the medicine will become less effective than planned. The result of this year medicine has shown that it is very effective but still is the best defense against the situation. The manufacturing of the medicines is also done in limits and this year has shown a little shortage. For creating the medicine for the entire population the government will be required to give years of prior notice which is very difficult. It is best that the situation is managed in the most effective way known.