Best Way to Prepare for Viral Infectious Diseases
Here’s what you can learn from existing viral diseases such as flu to get ready for corona and emerging viral diseases
While you should be cautious and keep up to date with the corona news updates as they unfold, you need to be keen not to overlook influenza (commonly known as flu), the cold and other viral infectious diseases that you may be exposed to every day. Keeping up to speed with information about influenza not only helps defeat it but also keeps you prepared for any other viral infectious disease that may arise in the future.
What You Need to Know About Viral Infectious Diseases
Antibiotics and viral infections
According to the US National Library of Medicine, viral infections are extremely contagious diseases caused by viruses. Unlike bacteria infections such as strep throat that antibiotics are used to treat, antibiotics do not work in viral infections. This why the World Health Organization -WHO- advises on their Corona FAQ’s that:
“Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection. “
Transmission and impact
Most viral diseases are spread through infectious droplets and body fluids. Infected people may disperse droplets containing viruses when they cough and sneeze. The dispersed infectious droplets can spread up to one meter. A person in close proximity with the infected person may inhale the infectious droplets and contract the virus. Viruses may also be spread by hands contaminated with viruses on surfaces in public transport and malls.
There are a great burden and impact caused by viral infections. For instance, the Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention — CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million — 45 million illnesses, between 140,000–810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000–61,000 deaths in the US annually since 2010.
Treatment: Antiviral drugs and supportive care
There exists antiviral treatment and symptom relief treatment for viruses that may not be fought using medication. For instance, the WHO confirms that there is no antiviral treatment for corona but those affected receive supportive care to relieve symptoms. Viral infections such as chickenpox and influenza have an antiviral treatment that is most effective when taken early in the course of the outbreak.
Some viral infections such as flu have vaccines. The Foods and Drugs Act advises Americans to get vaccinated against influenza every year. This is because the vaccine for each year is different and contains strains that are expected to be prevalent in the next flu season. Having immunization jabs boosts immunity and offers the possibility of avoiding infectious diseases you may be exposed to. However, the World Health Organization warns against substituting other preventive measures such as proper hygiene for vaccination. WHO advises that you should still uphold other outlined measures for disease prevention and control even with immunization.
Some people may be at a higher risk than others
According to the CDC, children younger than 5 years, especially those below 2 years are at a risk and need to be vaccinated. Children younger than 6 months may not be vaccinated since they are too young. However, experts advise that their parents and caregivers be vaccinated to avoid spreading the virus to the unvaccinated child.
Pregnant women, people with chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, and people older than 65 years may be at a risk due to the complications that come with flu symptoms. People working in long-term care facilities may also be at high risk and are advised to seek medical attention immediately they feel unwell.
While viral infections vary in symptoms and how they spread, basic guidelines on how to prevent yourself are not only valuable for the current but also future risks.
Here are experts tips to help in the prevention of flu and other deadly viral infections.
- Get vaccinated annually
- Beware of the flu season and trends. For instance, seasonal flu is on the rise in the months of February, December, January, and March according to CDC. You want to be cautious during these times when the risk is high.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water for about twenty seconds — about the time it takes to sing “ Happy Birthday” twice as advised by the Royal Pharmaceutical society.
- Be careful of what surface you touch to avoid contaminating your mouth, nose, face with your hands. If you can, avoid touching your face, use a tissue or wash your hands before you touch your face.
- If unwell seek medical advice and stay indoors. This helps prevent spreading the virus to other people. Likewise, be careful where you hang around to avoid exposing yourself to the virus.
Eunice is an adept techie from Kenya who loves soaking in deep research to bring the reader easy to understand and friendly content in the health and technology industry at tech freelancer.online. When she is not writing, she takes photographs of a clear sky and birds as she strolls down the nature trails in sub-Saharan Africa.