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Read more on what "Flu" really means.
Many patients in Singapore use the term “flu” to describe a variety of symptoms such as running nose, fever and cough. Physicians usually diagnose most of these conditions as acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). URTI are caused by a variety of pathogens, mostly viral.
The term “flu” should refer more specifically to influenza. Influenza is a viral infection that affects mainly the nose, throat, bronchi, and occasionally, the lungs. Infection is characterised by high fever, chills, sore throat, cough, headache, muscle ache, nasal discharge, and fatigue. It may be difficult to differentiate influenza from other URTI clinically. However, it is important to note that influenza infections may lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, ear infection, and meningitis.
Influenza is not always a mild disease.
While there is ongoing influenza transmission in the community throughout the year, Singapore has two main influenza seasons, from December to February, and from May to July, corresponding approximately to the northern and southern hemisphere winters.
In Singapore, influenza-associated hospitalisation has been estimated to be 29.6 per 100000 persons each year, or about 1500 hospitalisations per year. The elderly and children had much higher rates of hospitalisation. Hospitalisation rates for persons >75 years of age and children <6 months of age were 47 times and 26 times higher, respectively, than those for persons 25–44 years of age. An earlier study had estimated that influenza caused 588 deaths in Singapore annually.
Influenza vaccine provides good protection against influenza infection and its complications. Annual vaccination is recommended, especially for individuals at higher risk of developing complications from influenza infections. These individuals include :
The uptake of influenza vaccination in Singapore is low. In the 2012 Health Behaviour Surveillance of Singapore, only 8.7% of adults aged 50–69 years reported having been vaccinated against influenza3.
The new Southern Hemisphere vaccine which has been released in May 2015 protects against the current circulating strains of influenza. It covers all 3 common strains of influenza i.e. influenza A/H1N1, A/H3N2, and influenza B.
Do visit your healthcare provider to enquire about influenza vaccination, and get your flu shot today!
This article was last reviewed on
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
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