Flu 2022: right now, deadliest this year?

SEASONAL FLU EPIDEMIC. The first cases of flu were detected in France in November 2022. This year, the flu could be more deadly than in previous years. You have to protect yourself (barrier gestures, vaccine, etc.). Symptoms, duration, contagion time: know everything.

[Updated Nov 9, 2022 2:48 p.m.] The threat of a deadlier seasonal flu than in previous years (she was absent during the winter of 2020-2021 but she reappeared the following season in the first quarter of 2022), and the risk of excess mortality linked to viral coinfections , are to be feared, reports the Academy of Medicine on November 9. In this fall of 2022, the flu epidemic is back in France , according to French public health bulletin to November 3, 2022. It is therefore necessary start to be careful and again respect barrier gestures . ' We haven't had a major flu epidemic for two years and so our overall immunity to the flu has probably waned “, warned Professor Brigitte Autran, president of Covars, on October 4 on RMC , before encourage 'hugely' vaccination against the flu, as much as against the Covid . Similarly, Alain Fischer, professor of immunology, called on the elderly, frail and pregnant women to get vaccinated against the flu, in an interview with the Parisian end of September . The vaccination campaign against seasonal influenza started on October 18 in pharmacy. Until November 15, 2022, vaccination is reserved for people at risk : over 65, carriers of chronic diseases , pregnant women, people suffering from obesity, those around infants under 6 months at risk, health professionals... Then everyone can get vaccinated. Note that there are approx. 2 to 6 million cases of flu each year in France. Last year, the epidemic lasted 9 weeks from March to the end of April, its peak was very late and it mainly affected children under 15 years old. What are the flu symptoms ? The incubation period? The disease duration ? Is she contagious ? What are the treatments (natural or medicinal) to heal quickly? When to get vaccinated? Our special file on the flu.

Epidemic 2022: how many cases of flu at the moment?

The epidemic begins gradually. According to the latest bulletin from Public Health France, as of November 3, 2022, all the flu indicators are at their base level . A few sporadic cases are observed. The incidence rate of consultations for an influenza-like illness is 84 per 100,000 inhabitants (Sentinels Network). Since the start of monitoring, no serious cases have been admitted to intensive care. All regions of France are and vert on the map (no epidemic signal), except Reunion and Martinique which are in epidemic phase.

  flu map of france
Map of the flu by region in France

Definition: what is a flu?

The flu is a acute respiratory infection , due to a virus Influenza, while an influenza-like illness can be caused by many other respiratory viruses such as rhinovirus, virus syncytial respiratory, etc. Influenza viruses basically fall into two types: A and B , dividing themselves into two subtypes (A(H3N2) et A(H1N1) pdm09) or lineages (B/Victoria and B/Yamagata) . Type A influenza viruses circulate in many animal species (ducks, chickens, pigs, horses, seals, etc.). Influenza viruses from type B circulate mainly in humans . Viruses A and B cause seasonal epidemics in humans, but only type A viruses have been responsible for pandemics to date, points out Public Health France .

  Schema de la grippe (influenza)
Schema de la grippe (influenza)

What are typical flu symptoms?

Each year, flu epidemics can affect all age groups, but the most vulnerable people are the children under two years old , adults over 65 and people with certain chronic diseases . Early symptoms of the flu include:

  • great fatigue,
  • chills even when not cold,
  • a cough dry and painful
  • then comes the fever which can rise to more than 39°c,
  • aches,
  • headaches...

In all cases, in case of sudden aggravation or without improvement of the state 72 hours after first symptoms , it is essential see a doctor .

When to get the flu shot?

Vaccination is recommended for people at risk and healthcare professionals, and is the best way to protect against influenza and its complications. It's necessary allow approximately 15 days between vaccination and when the body is protected against influenza . No need to wait for the first cold weather or the start of the epidemic to get vaccinated. The last vaccination campaign ended on February 28, 2022.

How long does a flu last?

A hard flu between 3 and 7 days (5 days on average).

What is the incubation time for the flu?

' The incubation time (the time between the moment of illness and the appearance of symptoms) generally lasts between 24 and 48 hours, but it can extend to 72 hours , recalls Dr. Parneix. However, the patient is contagious, even before the appearance of symptoms and this, during an average period of 6 days. '

Is the flu contagious?

The flu is a contagious disease. The patient can transmit it ' even before the onset of symptoms and during an average period of 6 days “ recalls our interlocutor.

Comment is the influenza virus transmitted?

To be infected with the flu virus, you must be in contact with someone who already has the flu. Contamination can occur in three ways:

  • The first by airway : a sick person projects droplets of saliva into the air, when talking, coughing or sneezing. Millions of viruses are then found in the air, ready to be inhaled and contaminate you.
  • the second, by close direct contact : a sick person shakes your hand or kisses you.
  • Finally, contamination can occur through the contact with touched objects by a sick person, for example a doorknob or a telephone.

How to avoid infecting others if you have the flu?

  • Cough at the fold of the elbow and cover your nose when you sneeze,
  • Wash your hands with soap regularly throughout the day, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Blow your nose in a tissue and then throw it in the trash, ideally closed with a lid,
  • Porter a surgical mask if you are sick and you have to go to a closed and public place, this prevents contaminating others.
  • The gel hydroalcoolique is also practical, but in the long term it can dry out the hands.
  • Finally, remember to air the rooms regularly, several times a day: this will remove stagnant viruses in the air, through sneezing and breathing.

Treatment: how to cure a flu?

In case of flu-like symptoms:

  • Consult the doctor quickly . He or she will be able to make the diagnosis and prescribe the most appropriate medications.
  • Take some paracetamol to reduce fever, aches and pains.
  • The vitamin C is also sometimes recommended to combat fatigue. Similarly, certain foods are particularly recommended to better combat fatigue.
  • If necessary, you can complete with a nasal decongestant and one anti-tussif for dry and stubborn coughs.
  • Finally, it is necessary drink plenty and rest .

'The flu is caused by a virus and antibiotics are totally ineffective in treating viral illnesses, moreover they could deteriorate the good bacteria which the body needs to defend itself from illness' recalls Dr. Pierre Parneix.

What are the natural treatments to relieve the flu?

Garlic, lemon, honey, thyme... Several natural solutions can help boost the immune defenses in the prevention or treatment of the flu.

Numbers: what is the toll of the last epidemic (2021-2022)?

According to the epidemiological update published in October 2022 by Santé Publique France, influenza viruses began to circulate in December 2021. The epidemic started in March, peaked nationally in early April and ended in late April, that is 9 weeks of epidemic . No other influenza epidemic had reached its peak as late over the period 2009-2022. A co-circulation des virus A(H3N2) et A(H1N1) was observed, with a diversity of viral strains detected. Its impact was moderate in the general population, but important in children under 15 .

What should I do if my child catches the flu?

To prevent your child from contracting the flu virus, it is important to teach him how to blow his nose in a single-use tissue, to cover his nose to his mouth when sneezing or coughing. In any case, consult your pediatrician so that he can examine him and administer, depending on the case, the most appropriate treatment, especially against fever.

Prevention: how to avoid catching the flu?

To limit the seasonal flu epidemic, it is essential to adopt simple preventive measures on a daily basis aimed at limiting the circulation of the flu virus, particularly in communities and on public transport where it is easily transmitted. For those around people with the flu, it is recommended to follow these few hygiene rules:

  • Wash your hands regularly and systematically after each outing and each contact with the sick person.
  • Avoid close contact with the person with the flu and in particular if you yourself are vulnerable or 'at risk' (pregnant women, seniors, people suffering from a chronic illness or immunocompromised, young children, etc.)
  • will wash regularly hands with soap and water, or if you cannot do otherwise, with a hydro-alcoholic solution, especially after any contact with the patient and after each return home.
  • Do not share objects such as glasses, cutlery and of course toothbrushes.
  • Ventilate your interior every day for 10 to 15 minutes to renew the air and prevent the proliferation of viruses.
  • Clean germ nests such as door handles, remote controls, phone screens...

Thanks to Dr. Pierre Parneix, Medical Officer of Health and Hospital Practitioner in Public Health (Bordeaux University Hospital).

Source journaldesfemmes.fr