Saturday Dec 30, 2017
MULTAN: Four people in Multan died after contracting seasonal influenza on Saturday.
At least 22 people have been diagnosed with the disease, which has claimed eight lives in December.
Statistics released by the Health Department for the month of December state that over 35 patients at the Nishtar Hospital were diagnosed with symptoms that include influenza, cough, joint pain, running nose, vomiting, and fever.
Patients who died after contracting seasonal influenza were already suffering from another disease, said the Spokesperson of the Health Department in Multan Dr Atta-ur-Rehman.
Seasonal influenza can spread through contact with the bacteria discharged by an infected person's coughing and sneezing. Pregnant women, senior citizens, and children are susceptible to the disease.
In 2016, eight of the 74 people who had contracted the disease died.
An isolation ward for patients suffering from seasonal influenza has been formed at Nishtar Hospital.
Experts say an annual flu shot is the best way to avoid the aches fever congestion and fatigue that flu brings and to protect those who are at high risk for flu-related complications.
"Every year people die from influenza," said Cindy Weston an assistant professor of nursing at Texas A&M University. "After sizable outbreaks, people will respond with large amounts of vaccinations but they should be getting vaccinated every year to protect those most vulnerable mainly children and the elderly. Now that it's fall it's time for your shot."
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu shot for everyone older than 6 months of age. This includes pregnant women. Babies less than 8 months old may need to get the vaccine in two doses. And people over age 65 should get the high dose shot. Adults with severe egg allergies can get an alternative form of protection called Flublok according to the CDC.
"The flu strain mutates every year," she explained. "The flu shot you get this year is different from the one you got last year because it is made specifically for the prominent strains of the virus. If vaccination rates are low a potentially deadly flu outbreak could occur," Weston said.
Millions of people get the flu every year leading to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths according to the CDC.
"Flu season typically lasts from fall to spring," Weston said. "The outbreak may peak at various times during those seasons but people should be vaccinated before they return home for the holidays to prevent an outbreak. After you get the shot it takes two weeks for your body to develop antibodies against the virus," Weston pointed out.
"In the meantime, good hygiene will help you stay healthy. Washing your hands properly covering your cough avoid[ing] hand contact with your face and eyes and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant are all ways to help stop the spread of the flu," Weston said.