Seasonal influenza cases rising in India — here’s what we know so far about the flu

Seasonal influenza cases rising in India — here’s what we know so far about the flu
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  • The cases of seasonal influenza saw a steep rise this post-monsoon season, as compared to the last 2-3 years, say doctors and experts.
  • However, it is to be noted that swine flu, Covid-19 and seasonal influenza have a few similar symptoms.
  • Influenza can cause severe illness or death, particularly among high risk groups.
Seasonal influenza, commonly known as ‘flu’ is a viral infection that attacks lungs, nose and throat. The cases of flu saw a steep rise this post-monsoon season as compared to the last 2-3 years, say doctors and experts.

However, it is to be noted that swine flu and seasonal influenza are totally different but exhibit similar symptoms. Swine flu or H1N1 virus is caused by the H1N1 virus. Whereas, the virus which causes the seasonal flu changes every year and season.

What is seasonal influenza?

Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses which circulate in all parts of the world. It is a self-limiting disease and causes illnesses that range in severity and sometimes lead to hospitalization and death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

High risk groups like children, elderly, pregnant women, health workers and those with serious medical conditions are more vulnerable to this disease.

Worldwide, these annual epidemics are estimated to result in about 3-5 million cases of severe illnesses, and about 290,000-650,000 respiratory deaths, as per WHO.


In temperate climates, seasonal epidemics occur mainly during winter, while in tropical regions, influenza may occur throughout the year, causing outbreaks more irregularly.

The seasonal influenza transmits rapidly in crowded areas including schools and nursing homes. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets containing viruses are dispersed into the air and can spread up to a distance of one meter, and infect persons in close proximity who breathe them in.

Is flu similar to Covid-19?

No, the flu is not similar to Covid-19 but has some common symptoms.

“Seasonal influenza doesn’t spread as easily as Covid. It has a smaller isolation period and generally doesn’t cause any complications as Covid, depending upon the patient,” said Dr Kirti Sabnis, infectious disease specialist, Fortis Hospital - Kalyan and Mulund.

Covid-19 is caused by the coronavirus and its isolation period is anywhere between 14-17 days. The common symptoms between Covid and seasonal flu are fever, fatigue and dry cough.

How can one stop it from spreading?

“We must watch out for flu-like symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and body ache. One must follow simple steps like throwing away the tissue used for sneezing or coughing, and follow normal hygiene guidelines,” Dr Aditya S Chowti, Senior Consultant — internal medicine, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore.

There are also vaccines available in the market for influenza. “The best precaution for influenza to reduce the complication or reduce the spread is to get a vaccination. The dose has to be taken once in a year,” Dr Sabnis added.

Patients should monitor themselves, and if their condition deteriorates, they should seek medical attention.

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