RITM Live focuses on Influenza and its complications
Dr. Joanne De-Jesus-Cornejo discussing Influenza during RITM Live Episode 7 on June 07

As the start of the flu season approaches, the Communication and Engagement Office (CE Office) of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) initiated the seventh episode of RITM Live: Ask the Expert series focusing on influenza or “flu” and its possible complications last June 07, 2023.

Live guest expert, RITM Head of the Acute Respiratory Tract Infections (ARI) Study Group, Dr. Joanne De Jesus-Cornejo discussed influenza/flu and its symptoms, mode of transmission, possible complications or threats, and treatments of flu.  

“Ang influenza ay isang nakakahawang sakit ng respiratory system, na karaniwang nakakaapekto sa ilong, lalamunan, at baga. Ito ay sanhi ng influenza virus,” said Dr. De Jesus-Cornejo explaining flu.

Symptoms of influenza includes:

  • high fever
  • muscle ache/joint pain
  • chills
  • runny/stuffy nose
  • dry cough
  • fatigue/tiredness
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • sore throat
  • headache

Like other respiratory infections, influenza can be transmitted from person to person through droplet transmission while coughing, sneezing, or talking within six (6) feet distance. The 3rd to 4th day after the onset of symptoms are the most contagious period for transmission.

Senior citizens, pregnant women, children, people with asthma, heart problems, stroke, diabetes, or with kidney diseases, and other persons with disability have the most risk of catching flu.

Patients with flu can be treated by drinking plenty of water, taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications for symptom relief like paracetamol, and getting plenty of rest. For those who are at higher risk and are positive for Influenza A or B, taking prescription antiviral medication within 48 hours of symptom onset are also advised.

After discussing influenza, the broadcast proceeded with the question-and-answer session where Dr. De Jesus-Cornejo answered some crowdsourced inquiries like belief-threatening influenza is.

Nakadepende ito sa kung ano ang paraan ng pagresponde ng katawan ng isang indibidwal na apektado ng influenza. Maaaring maging komplikado ang influenza at maaaring magresulta sa pneumonia. Kung hindi agarang mabibigyan ng atensyon, lalo na kung ito ay nakaapekto sa mga taong immunocompromised, maaaring maging nakamamatay ang influenza,” answered Dr. De Jesus-Cornejo.

As per Dr. De Jesus-Cornejo, the estimated annual cases of deaths during the seasonal influenza are around 290,000–650,000 worldwide.

Followed by the discussion on prevention and vaccines, Dr. De Jesus-Cornejo also emphasized that among the other respiratory viruses, only influenza is vaccine-preventable and it is recommended to take annual flu vaccine shots to lessen the risk of having influenza and lessen the severity of its symptoms.

Para makaiwas sa flu, dapat na pairalin ang hand hygiene, cough etiquette, palagiang paghuhugas ng kamay, at pag-iwas sa mga apektado ng sakit. Kumpara sa iba pang mga respiratory virus, ang influenza virus lamang ang may bakuna laban dito. Ang ibang mga virus tulad ng rhinovirus at respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) ay walang mga bakuna,“ said Dr. De Jesus-Cornejo.

Since most cases of flu arises from March to April, the best month to take the annual flu vaccine shot is by February to prepare the antibodies for the flu season, however, it can be given in any month of the year so long as the vaccine is available.

Patients who are experiencing symptoms of influenza and wishes to consult may proceed to the nearest hospital or they may book an online consultation at the RITM online appointment system.

by Yvette Kirsten Gimena, Communication and Engagement Office