As advised by the Ministry of Health and Sports, Myanmar, the total number of laboratory-confirmed, seasonal Influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 cases is 71 as at June 20 2019. This includes three deaths. In this regard, WHO is actively collaborating with the national health authorities to provide all necessary timely support regarding prevention, detection and response to influenza.
General information about seasonal Influenza
Seasonal influenza is an acute viral infection that spreads easily from person to person. Seasonal influenza viruses circulate worldwide and can affect people in any age group. In temperate climates, seasonal epidemics occur mainly during winter while in tropical regions, influenza seasonality is less obvious and epidemics can occur throughout the year. Seasonal influenza is a serious public health problem that can cause severe illness and death in high risk populations. An influenza epidemic can take an economic toll through lost workforce productivity and strained health services. Influenza vaccination is an effective way to prevent disease. Antiviral drugs are available for treatment, though influenza viruses can develop resistance to the drugs.
How do you prevent influenza from spreading?
Influenza is a droplet infection, not airborne, and not highly pathogenic. It can spread quickly between people when an infected person coughs or sneezes, dispersing droplets of the virus into the air. It can also be spread by hands contaminated by the virus. Therefore, frequent hand washing with soap and water as well as cleaning surface is important in prevention. People should cover their mouth and nose, ideally by coughing/sneezing into the sleeve of their shoulder/arm/elbow, or if not with a tissue, then throw the tissue out and wash their hands thoroughly and regularly.
Seasonal Influenza Vaccination
Vaccination is an effective way to prevent infection and severe outcomes caused by influenza virus. Vaccination is especially important to people at higher risk of serious influenza complications, and for people who live with or care for high risk individuals. WHO recommends seasonal influenza vaccination to pregnant women at highest priority including children aged 6-59 months, elderly, individuals with specific chronic medical conditions and health-care workers.
Effectiveness of influenza vaccines
The reported effectiveness of influenza vaccines varies substantially with different factors. For example, it varies with the match between the vaccine strains and prevailing influenza strains. Also, it varies with the severity of infection, i.e. whether it is Influenza-like illness or a laboratory-confirmed infection.
Is seasonal influenza linked to pandemic flu?
Seasonal influenza outbreaks are caused by small changes in viruses that have already circulated, and to which many people have some immunity. A pandemic occurs when an influenza virus emerges that most people do not have immunity to — because it is different from any previous strain in humans. This may enable a new strain to spread more easily between people. Seasonal influenza viruses may contribute to the emergence of a pandemic virus. Further, once a pandemic virus has been established — as with the pandemic A (H1N1) in the year 2009 — it can become a seasonal virus.
Further information regarding Influenza overall is available at http://www.who.int/influenza/en/