A strong wave of influenza in Lebanon: a new pattern against which there is no immunity

The influenza virus exposed its teeth this year, and caused a strong wave that led to the closure of some schools for several days or the closure of classes in them due to the high number of infections with the virus. This scene recreated the health scenario during the Corona pandemic, and wearing a muzzle became mandatory again to mitigate the risk of infection transmission. However, it was remarkable that the schools’ decision was automatic without referring to the Ministry of Education, as each school took the decision it deems appropriate according to the percentage of positive cases of influenza.

Many factors played a role in this strong return of the virus. After the disappearance of influenza with Corona, it reappeared with the decline in prevention measures, the development of the virus, and the great social mixing. It has become certain that the seasonal influenza that is spreading in Lebanon is caused by the type “B” virus that prevails today and is due to the H3N2 strain that affects the Lebanese, which is considered new to the immune system, two years after the absence of respiratory viruses as a result of the spread of Corona.

In the year 2020, influenza infections were at their lowest levels, while today they are recording a clear increase, with symptoms varying between moderate and severe. Accordingly, seasonal diseases returned to dominate the scene, in light of the spread of cholera and corona at the same time.

And the southern hemisphere experience in 2022 – as the March-September flu season has now passed – showed a rise in influenza cases. Based on this observation, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region expects a strong resurgence of influenza.

In this regard, Dr. Jacques Choucair, a specialist in bacterial diseases, explains that “there are four types of influenza A, B, C and D, and the prevailing type in the past was type “B”. ) and then swine flu … so the dominant pattern today is type A.

As for the designation H and N, it refers to hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, which are proteins present on the surface of the virus and are numbered, according to Choucair. He continued: “Usually, the virus evolves in a small way every year. This process is called drift, and every 3 years it develops in a large way and is called Shift, which is called Shift.” It means the emergence of a virus completely different from the virus that existed previously.

Choucair stresses that this great development of the virus means that our body does not have immunity against it because it is new and the immune system recognizes it. We estimate that this year has evolved The virus has shifted dramatically, which is what caused a strong wave of influenza that kills the Lebanese.

Therefore, we stress the importance of receiving the vaccine for all citizens, because it reduces the severity of symptoms, especially for people who are most vulnerable to complications, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people who suffer from weak immunity, chronic diseases, and pulmonary diseases.

Regarding the percentage of injuries, Shuqair indicates that “there is no data or statistics on this subject because people are unable to conduct tests to confirm their infection, or the examination is limited to one person in the family instead of all individuals. All of this affects the accuracy of the data and numbers. But what We know him that the injuries are many and the clinics are full of patients and the calls that we receive daily do not stop, and therefore the numbers are large, but the statistics are inaccurate and non-existent.

The symptoms are similar between the influenza virus, corona virus, and the common cold. Clinical examination and laboratory examination are the best means to ascertain the type and cause of infection. Since the virus does not distinguish anyone, all groups are considered vulnerable to infection, but the risk is greater for the younger group (children under five years), the elderly (over 65 years), people with weak immunity, chronic or cancerous diseases, pregnant women, or patients heart and kidneys. These groups are more vulnerable to complications from the virus, and face the risk of pneumonia or infection with bacteria after infection with the virus, which leads to other problems and infections.

Flu symptoms include:

* High temperature

* Body and muscle pain

* a headache

* Pain in the throat

Runny nose or congestion in the nose

Diarrhea and vomiting (sometimes)

But for Choucair, the most important thing remains the method of treatment and not taking antibiotics, because it will not help in the case of the influenza virus and has no effect at all on the virus, and will lead to the multiplication of the virus in the body and the deterioration of the patient’s condition and the severity of his symptoms more. While there is a drug for influenza, which is available in Lebanon, and its name is oseltamivir, and it must be diagnosed early and taken to avoid exacerbation of symptoms and multiplication of the virus.

As a result of the increase in cases and the closure of some classes in schools, should schools be closed for two weeks to curb the flu in Lebanon? Choucair believes, “I was in favor of receiving the vaccine in order to avoid transmission of infection and mitigate the symptoms of infection, but the low rate of vaccination led to the spread of the virus more. Therefore, I call on everyone who did not receive the vaccine to receive it and reduce the risk of transmitting infection or even reduce the severity of symptoms.”

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