Influenza Types & Why Protection Against Each Is Essential ?
Created by Dr Shipra Mathur Updated on Jun 26, 2019
Influenza or Flu is known to be a contagious illness & a common illness among children. A lot of confusion around what this virus is and what it isn’t. Sometimes it may seem like a common cold but is actually a different disease and can get more serious. Seasonal influenza spreads easily, especially in crowded areas such as schools and daycare centers.
If your child is in close contact with an infected child or a person and he/ she coughs or sneezes, the virus can spread. If your child touches an infected surface area and is then putting hands in his/her mouth or nose, skin-to-skin contact like handshakes, saliva (like sharing juices, shakes), can transfer the influenza virus and cause flu as well.
What Are the Different Types of Flu?
Did you know there are different types of influenza? You may have read or heard your doctor mention flu A, B or swine flu. There are vaccines available to protect against different Influenza viruses. Flu is basically caused by a virus called Influenza. There are four types of influenza viruses- types A, B, C and D. Influenza A, and B viruses spread widely and can cause seasonal epidemics.
- Influenza A viruses - These also have several subtypes (secondary types), for instance, the H1N1 variant that is popularly known as “swine flu”. Wild birds commonly act as the hosts for this flu virus. Type A flu virus is constantly changing. This type is responsible for the large flu epidemics around the world.
- Influenza B viruses are found only in humans. Type B flu is usually less severe. However, if left unattended, it can become harmful.
- Influenza C virus may go undetected as it usually causes mild infections only.
- Influenza D virus primarily affects cattle and is not known to infect or cause illness in humans.
How to Prevent Child Getting Influenza(Flu) Infected?
It is important to understand that protection against all influenza viruses is essential. Illnesses related to Flu infection range from mild to severe and can even result in loss of life. The mild to moderate infections are common but these also result in several days of ill health and increased sick days for your child. Children below 5 years of age are under the high-risk group, they may have to be hospitalized if they get infected with the virus.
What Are Ways to Prevent Child From Flu?
Here are precautionary steps to protect your child from getting the flu virus. Read carefully.
1. Take Everyday Preventive Steps to Avoid the Spread of the Infection
We should cover our mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing, and wash hands regularly with soap and water. One should avoid close contact with a person who is infected.
2. Highly Recommended Vaccination
Flu vaccination is highly recommended and these are available against 3 or 4 strains of the virus. Earlier, the flu vaccine could only protect against three influenza viruses named - Influenza A (H3N2) virus, Influenza A (H1N1) virus, and one of the Influenza B viruses. However, the new vaccine called the quadrivalent vaccine protects against the four strains: two Influenza A viruses and two Influenza B viruses.
Different strains of the flu virus mutate into new forms over time replacing the older strains. That is why it's important for your child to get a flu shot/ vaccine each year to ensure that their body develops immunity to the most recent strains of the virus.
I hope this information is useful to you. It is important to educate yourself about the flu virus, to take the necessary steps to protect your child from the flu. Take the pledge, #IPromiseToStopFlu and keep your child protected against flu. And now, that you are aware, please do spread the awareness among fellow parents too.
This article is meant to help create awareness and spread knowledge. Any decision regarding your health and child's health should be done after consultation with your doctor. Read my full disclosure here. While all efforts are made to keep articles updated, the speed of research in these fields mean the information often may change when more research knowledge is available. The authors should be in no way held responsible in that case.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of the public awareness initiative on influenza supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information.