Influenza virus highly active in the UAE
Dubai: A high incidence of influenza is being reported in the UAE as summer transitions to winter and doctors are advising residents to prevent infection by getting vaccinated.
Dr. Sandeep Pargi, a senior pulmonologist from Aster Hospital, Bur Dubai told Gulf News: “I have been signing at least two sick leave certificates per day for the last fortnight.”
He attributes the high incidence of influenza to the change in season.
“Every year the genetic make-up of viruses undergo changes. Just as our immune systems gets used to one strain, new strains appear. In addition to this, around this time, especially since a huge contingent of residents on vacation to their native countries return with new strains. The viral load gets high, and the changing season also has a high level of allergens in the atmosphere causing the onset of infections.”
Dr. Pargi added that infection was spreading because “People have been confined to closed air conditioned rooms for long owing to the heat and viruses were thriving in AC vents and spreading through it.”
The typical duration of an influenza bout is about 5-7 days. In a case of children the infection can last up to a fortnight and in cases of those who have a compromised immune system because of advancing age or diabetes or du to pre-existing respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma is more susceptible to catching the virus.
The vaccination approved by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) is available at all government Primary Health Centres and private clinics and hospitals by the beginning of September which is the beginning of the influenza season in the UAE.
“It is advisable to get vaccinated to prevent flu right in the beginning of September. Anyone from the above the age of six months is advised to get this vaccination which gives an individual protection for a year.,” said Dr. Pargi who advised against any antibiotic treatment. “Antibiotics are only given when there is a secondary bacterial infection. Otherwise, paracetamol, antihistamines a strong dose of 1000 mg Vitamin C, some steaming, and complete rest are enough to get your immune system to respond.”
How to keep influenza away
- Practice hand hygiene and always sanitize especially when using public places or even touching door knobs in offices or cabs
- Get an influenza vaccination at the beginning of September
- Keep your immune system strong with strong doses of Vitamin C
- Take steam inhalation and keep yourself warm
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or a cough as a sneeze can transmit an infection droplet from six feet across.
- Avoid visiting public places such as swimming pools, Turkish baths and even pubs which are crowded
- If you are diabetic or suffer from any respiratory disease visit your GP for a preventive check.