oa SA Pharmaceutical Journal - What's the latest in the new flu season? : review

Volume 82, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2221-5875
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1017



Influenza, commonly known as "flu", is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Outbreaks usually occur during the winter months in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. However, they may occur throughout the year in the tropics. The epidemiological pattern reflects the changing nature of the antigenic properties of the influenza viruses. Their subsequent spread depends upon several factors, including transmissibility of the virus and the vulnerability of the population. They can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Annual epidemics are estimated to result in approximately 3-5 million cases of severe illness, and approximately 250 000-500 000 deaths worldwide. Increased rates of morbidity and mortality occur at the extremes of age and in individuals with underlying co-morbidities. However, higher rates of mortality also occur in young adults during pandemics.

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