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It’s the vacation season! A few of you may be travelling overseas for a much-needed getaway over the Christmas, New Yr or Chinese language New Yr intervals. Malaysia can even be seeing an inflow of vacationers from everywhere in the world throughout this time. What a refreshing change from the restrictions of the final two years.
Thoughts you, COVID-19 just isn’t gone but, and everybody nonetheless wants to guard in opposition to it. Nevertheless, we’re right here to highlight one other looming respiratory sickness that would damage your holidays, not to point out your well being as effectively.
It’s none apart from influenza. Often known as the flu, this illness just isn’t one thing to sneeze at (pardon the pun). That is particularly in case you are aged 65 or older, extra so when you have diabetes, kidney illness and/or different continual well being situations.
The flu could cause acute respiratory misery, pneumonia, in addition to a number of different serious complications. It may additionally improve the chance of a heart attack by greater than 10 occasions within the first 7 days of catching the flu. Stroke danger may double or triple within the first 2 weeks of an an infection.
It’s sobering to suppose that the flu could be related to coronary heart assault, pneumonia and stroke which rank because the 2nd, third and 4th principal causes of dying (after COVID-19) in Malaysia in 2022.
Early Northern Flu Season
In gentle of this, Professor Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, Technical Committee Chairman of the Immunise4Life programme, advises warning in case you are planning to go to the northern hemisphere the place flu instances are surging at the moment.
He explains: “Whereas the flu circulates all 12 months spherical in Malaysia, temperate international locations have a tendency to have their flu season within the winter months – December to March within the northern hemisphere, and June to August within the south.
“This 12 months, nonetheless, flu season began early within the northern hemisphere. Circumstances have been rising dramatically since October and have already overtaken the variety of instances reported this time last year.
“The rise is predicted to proceed, and we are able to count on a tough flu season in most northern locations which are standard with Malaysian vacationers.”
As at December 2, 2022, america Centres for Illness Management (CDC) estimated 8.7 million People had been contaminated, 78,000 hospitalised, and 4,500 died of flu-related causes in what media shops have known as the nation’s ‘worst flu outbreak in a decade’.
In the meantime, the French Health Authority has declared a flu epidemic in three areas in France, whereas figuring out one other 5 – together with Paris and its surrounding areas – to be in a pre-epidemic phase.
In its first winter replace this 12 months, the Nationwide Health Service (NHS) of England reported a median of 344 flu sufferers in hospital per day in a single week – 10 occasions greater than the quantity seen firstly of December 2021.
Over within the Far East, the well being authorities of South Korea, Taiwan and Japan are additionally expressing concern over the steadily rising variety of flu instances, amid mounting fears of a potential twindemic – the concurrent unfold of flu and COVID-19.
Datuk Dr Christopher Lee feels travellers would do effectively to perceive how flu viruses get round.
He’s a Marketing consultant Infectious Ailments Doctor and a member of the Malaysian Influenza Working Group underneath the Malaysian Society of Infectious Ailments & Chemotherapy.
He says: “Image your self having fun with the crisp, chilly open air. Earlier than lengthy, you swiftly make your method into a comfortable café, becoming a member of different patrons warming up over steaming mugs of sizzling chocolate.
“All of it sounds fantastic, besides that you’re extra seemingly to catch the flu indoors in winter. By coughing, sneezing or talking, contaminated individuals might ship flu viruses circulating contained in the crowded and poorly ventilated surroundings. You may additionally decide up flu viruses that had settled onto the tabletops, door handles and different surfaces.
“Relying in your proximity to the supply and period of publicity, you would possibly find yourself with a full-blown bout of the flu, and waste treasured holidays in mattress or in hospital.”
Datuk Christopher continues: “Now, let’s say you managed to evade the flu all through the journey. Don’t be too fast to suppose you might be flying residence flu-free.
“On board the plane, you have got an 80% probability of getting the flu if there’s an contaminated individual – who could or could not have signs – sitting one row in entrance or behind you, inside 2 seats to both aspect.
“Moreover, flu viruses can survive for up to 48 hours on sure surfaces, together with your overhead compartment deal with, seat-belt buckle, video display, meals tray, arm-rest and management panel.
“You would possibly strive disinfecting this stuff. Nevertheless, it will be impractical to disinfect every part you’ll contact once you land, comparable to your baggage bag, trolley, the bathroom flush, automotive door deal with and so forth.”
Flu Prevention Ideas for Travellers
Datuk Christopher says: “Observe the COVID-19 SOPs when potential. Masking, though not promoted in most international locations, could assist scale back the probabilities of catching the flu. It’s nonetheless much less efficient when these round you aren’t masked. The extra safety conferred by the annual flu vaccination is subsequently advisable to stop the illness.”
“When injected, the vaccine introduces inactivated flu viruses into the physique. These have been killed and are unable to trigger illness. Nevertheless, they stimulate your physique to produce antibodies that can spring to your defence if you happen to occur to be uncovered to the flu. Enable two weeks to attain the specified degree of immunity earlier than flying off.”
Like COVID-19 vaccination, flu vaccination helps stop extreme illness, hospitalisation and dying. Flu vaccination can also be related to a 34% decrease danger of main hostile cardiovascular events. There was additionally an 18% decreased danger of dying reported in sufferers with heart failure.
In individuals with sort 2 diabetes, flu vaccination has been related to a decreased danger of coronary heart failure by 22%, stroke by 30%, coronary heart assault by 19% and pneumonia by 15%.
Noting that flu viruses mutate continuously, Datuk Christopher provides that at present obtainable flu vaccines have been up to date to successfully combat virus sub-types which are circulating within the northern hemisphere at the moment.
He says: “It will assist scale back your danger of contracting the illness. The flu vaccination just isn’t solely advisable for these travelling overseas however for everybody particularly high-risk teams because the importation of flu instances by way of air journey may end up in the unfold of flu inside the group. So, when you have not been vaccinated in opposition to the flu, now is an effective time to get it executed. The annual flu vaccination is your passport to wholesome holidays. Don’t depart residence with out it.”
The flu vaccination is on the market at most personal clinics in Malaysia. Click on right here to discover a clinic close to you. Be taught extra here.
This text was contributed by the Flu Prevention is An Act of Love marketing campaign underneath Immunise4Life, a significant initiative to promote life course vaccination by the Ministry of Health, Malaysian Paediatric Affiliation, and the Malaysian Society of Infectious Ailments & Chemotherapy.