Influenza spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually and sometimes millions in pandemic years. Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century and killed tens of millions of people, with each of these pandemics being caused by the appearance of a new strain of the virus in humans. Often, these new strains appear when an existing flu virus spreads to humans from other animal species, or when an existing human strain picks up new genes from a virus that usually infects birds or pigs.
The disease infects the nose, throat or lungs, and usually lasts three to five days. Influenza can be dangerous to the elderly, especially those who live in residential homes where there is more risk of contracting the virus through contact with others. People with lung and heart diseases are also more likely to develop complications due to an attack of flu. Those at risk are advised to get a yearly vaccination. Consult your doctor if you have any problems or questions.
The most common flu symptoms are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. Fever and coughs are the most frequent symptoms. Consult your Doctor if it goes on for more than a week or if the symptoms are very severe.
Swine influenza (also called H1N1 flu) was a pandemic that lasted from January 2009 until August 2010; an infection caused by a strain of the influenza type A virus known as H1N1.
The virus rapidly spread across the world quickly after emerging in Mexico and at the time of emergence, it was the first flu pandemic for 40 years. In total, an estimated 1,632,710 people contracted the virus.
It was spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of swine flu in humans appear to be similar to those produced by standard, seasonal flu. Fever is the key symptom, combined with cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and aching limbs. Some people with the virus have also reported nausea and diarrhoea.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a potentially deadly novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
As of 2021, the global pandemic is still ongoing with varying restrictions in place throughout many parts of the world, and has caused many thousands of deaths worldwide. The disease was initially identified during December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei province. It is believed to have originated from a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan, although no official confirmation of this theory has been given.
The virus proved impossible to contain in China and has since spread globally. Common COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhoea, sore throat, loss of smell, and abdominal pain. The incubation period (time from exposure to the onset of symptoms) has drastically varied, but is generally believed to be around two to fourteen days usually.
Coronavirus symptoms are usually fairly mild and manageable, and indeed some people may exhibit no symptoms at all. However, some people, especially those with certain underlying health conditions, may progress to viral pneumonia and multi-organ failure, and ultimately death.
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
- Get a PCR test (test that is sent to a lab) to check if you have COVID-19 as soon as possible.
- You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your childcare or support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.