Influence of the season: dramatic situation or “normal administration”?

Also this year, the flu has made an appearance in Italy. Looking for news on the flu state of Italians, we rely on an authoritative source such as the Istituto Superiore di Sanità. Then, overcome by curiosity, we browsed the internet to see what some online newspapers had to say, and we find the rather alarming news: “Influenza 2019, in bed are 341,000 Italians: the virus is almost epidemic” (source il Messaggero.it).

Apparently, the situation seems worse than the flu season of 2018 which had already been quite serious. A bit alarmed, we went back to the site of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità and read the report InfluNet, and then went back again to the Messaggero’s article, and we realized that we made the usual mistake of not reading the entire article very well.

In fact, upon reading it more closely, it’s now clear that the situation is not dramatic at all and above all, one can certainly not speak of an epidemic. In fact, the data from InfluNet clearly states that the level of incidence of influenza at week 45 (which corresponds to the second week of November, to be precise), are below the baseline (i.e. fewer than 3 cases per 1,000 patients).

The seven recommendations to prevent influenza

The fact remains that Winter is coming, and with it, the flu. The recommendations are always the same, and the news bulletins given to us every year; and they’re good, because sometimes our memory needs to be refreshed. Here are the seven recommendations, in order to prevent the flu:

  1. Wash your hands often
  2. Avoid being in crowded places
  3. Air-through closed rooms often
  4. Cover your mouth and nose well, especially when switching from hot to cold environments
  5. Do not sneeze or cough in other people’s faces (education should be enough, but sometimes it’s simply not enough)
  6. Vaccinate if you are in an at-risk category
  7. Do not abuse antibiotics

Anti-influenza vaccines and antibiotics

With regard to the categories of people who are advised to get vaccinated, we talked extensively about this in previous articles. Also, described are the categories of those who are not advised to get vaccinated, and what the best time is to receive a flu vaccine.

Instead, we would like to talk more extensively about the use of antibiotics, or rather, their abuse. This is a subject that we’ve already covered, but which is certainly worth repeating here.

First of all, let me state once again that they are ineffective against viruses, and therefore also against influenza. On the contrary, they can be potentially harmful because their abuse can induce so-called bacterial resistance; that is, when you have a bacterial infection, the antibiotics will no longer work.

Why is this happening? Simply because the antibiotic, in the absence of a real need, selects the most resistant bacteria that will have free rein at its first opportunity to attack your body. In case of viral flu, only the Doctor will be able to prescribe antibiotics for you, and normally only in cases that are absolutely necessary.

In conclusion, the Autumn season has begun in the normal way, as far as the spread of influenza is concerned; this does not mean that we must lower our guard and above all, we must continue to help our more fragile citizens: the elderly, children, and immune-depressed people.

This post is also available in: Italiano

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