Flu wave 2016: What you should know about influenza
The flu wave 2016 is slowly reaching its peak. So far, over 3,000 people in Germany have been infected. Here is some information about who is particularly affected by influenza this season, how to recognize flu, and what to do if you have an illness.
The number of confirmed illnesses in the preseason is higher
Fever, headache, body aches: The flu wave is in full swing. Not all regions in Germany are affected equally. According to figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), there is currently an accumulation of influenza cases in Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony in addition to the east. A "significantly increased influenza activity" is also currently being reported for southern Germany. As can be seen from the weekly reports of the RKI, 3,081 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases were transmitted nationwide for the seventh calendar week. This means that the number of cases has totaled 13,290 since October. The number of confirmed illnesses was much higher in the previous season.
The course of the flu wave cannot be predicted
Basically, the course of a flu season cannot be predicted. The season usually starts in January and lasts three to four months on average, but this time the first flu cases were reported in Berlin and Brandenburg in October. Flu is not reportable in Germany. The Influenza Working Group (AGI) evaluates reports from general practitioners and pediatric practices to see how many people have been infected with them. However, not every patient with such a disease goes to the doctor and even with the corresponding symptoms it is not always determined whether there is a flu or a flu-like infection. The number of unreported cases is likely to be significantly higher than the official figures show every season.
Many swine flu cases in particular
A peculiarity of the current flu wave is that according to initial knowledge, many healthy adults are infected with severe flu. According to the RKI, the reason why there are many more swine flu cases than in the previous year is probably the current dominance of virus A (H1N1) pdm09, which has only been circulating since 2009. The H1N1 virus is better known to many under the name "swine flu". "The virus also appears to cause more severe disease progression in younger adults and people without a chronic medical condition than the A (H3N2) virus, which was common last year," said the RKI influenza expert, Dr. Silke Buda according to a message from the dpa news agency.
Difference between flu and cold
Since the symptoms are somewhat similar, the difference between cold and flu is not immediately clear to everyone. One point at which it becomes very clear what it is is the beginning: A flu occurs suddenly. You often feel healthy in the morning and suddenly have a fever of 40 degrees in the evening. As a rule, symptoms such as headache, limb and bone pain, chills, cough and runny nose are added. Those affected usually feel very sick. It is very important for self-treatment for flu and colds, to drink a lot and to rest in bed for a few days. The disease usually lasts five to seven days. According to the RKI, the incubation period averages one to two days. In contrast to the flu, a cold usually begins insidiously with symptoms such as scratching the throat or hoarseness, followed by a runny nose and cough. The worst is often over after a day or two. After about a week, all symptoms should be gone.
People from risk groups are advised to be vaccinated
Everyone has to decide for themselves whether a flu vaccination makes sense. According to the RKI, it can still offer protection even at the beginning and in the course of the flu wave. Health experts recommend people from high-risk groups to get vaccinated. For example, the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) advises senior citizens from the age of 60, pregnant women, the chronically ill, residents of old people's homes and nursing homes and medical staff to be vaccinated against flu. Ultimately, the pros and cons of flu vaccination must be weighed up against each other. (ad)