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Influenza

What is Influenza?

It is a very common virus infection causing infection of lining of the nose, throat and lungs. The symptoms include fever, runny nose and cough.

What causes the disease?

There are many numerous strains of the common flu viruses. The strain responsible for a particular flu season changes with subsequent outbreaks.

What is the vaccine and how is it given?

There are 2 types, namely the weakened live and the killed vaccine. Each vaccine contains three influenza strains that are likely to cause flu infection in that region for that year.

The killed flu vaccine can be given by injection into the muscle every year to children from 6 month to 5years old. The weakened virus can be given annually by nasal spray to children above 5 years old.

Who should receive the vaccine?

Parents may choose to vaccinate their children annually against flu.

What is Pandemic Flu and how is it different from the above Common Flu?

Pandemic flu is a worldwide epidemic of flu occurring about once every 30 years. It can spread very rapidly to involve many people across the world and can cause serious chest infection and deaths.

The flu virus in migratory bird and poultry like chicken can jump species from bird to humans. Therefore, the strain of virus in any current bird flu season can potentially cause the next flu pandemic.

Once, there is a pandemic flu, the population needs to take steps to break the cycle of transmission among humans. The vaccine effective during the pandemic flu can only be manufactured after the onset of a pandemic and the responsible virus strain identified.

Last reviewed : 07 March 2010
Content Writer : Dato’ Dr. Jimmy Lee Kok Foo