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Health Matters

Seasonal Flu Pandemic

David Queimado Nogueira (General Practitioner / Family Doctor) . 11/01/2017

The flu attributed to the influenza virus is a disease that has been around for a long time. Estimated losses due to mutations of the viral structure are considerable when we think back to the extreme gravity of flu pandemics in the past.

Taking into account the current state of the flu pandemic, the capacity to produce seasonal vaccines and the potential capacity to provide a vaccine against pandemic influenza, the goals defined by the World Health Organization for various countries should be adopted as part of a strategy that aims to protect the integrity of the health system, reduce the morbidity and mortality rate and diminish transmission of the virus in the community.

Vaccination policies regarding the influenza pandemic are based, in part, on recognised scientific evidence on the recommended seasonal vaccine, as quickly as it is available, to groups traditionally considered at risk (people aged 65 years or more; people who are chronically ill and immuno-compromised, aged 6 months or more; pregnant women; health professionals).
However, the seasonal flu vaccine is not expected to protect against pandemic influenza. The physician’s opinion should always be consulted and the decision regarding vaccination should result from personal reflection, always based on this evidence and a risk assessment.

Those who display flu symptoms should rest at home, avoid dressing too warmly, take fever medication (paracetamol) and contact a doctor in case of chronic disease or if the symptoms prolong or worsen. It is important to have a thermometer at home in order to monitor body temperature. Antibiotics are only justified if prescribed by a physician. Furthermore, and more importantly, fluids must be ingested to maintain hydration, contact with other people should be minimal, hands should be washed frequently, paper tissues should be used and the mouth should be covered with tissues or the forearm in order to avoid continued transmission of the virus.

Symptoms that may indicate the presence of flu include an overall profound discomfort, intense or sudden fever, chills, cough, fatigue or a lack of appetite.

If the symptoms prevail for more than seven to nine days and the fever does not decrease, a medical appointment will always be necessary.

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