Flu: right now, symptoms, the vaccine is tomorrow!

INFLUENZA 2022-2023. The flu virus is circulating weakly in France at the moment, but epidemiologists fear 'a serious risk of an epidemic', especially since our overall immunity against the flu has probably diminished. The vaccination campaign begins this Tuesday, October 18 in pharmacies.

[Updated October 17, 2022 at 12:04 p.m.] At the beginning of autumn, the flu virus is circulating but the epidemic is weak. All the regions of metropolitan France are in green on the map, according to the latest bulletin from Public Health France . However, we must start to be careful and re-respect the barrier gestures. ' We haven't had a major flu epidemic for two years and so our overall immunity to the flu has probably waned “, indicates Professor Brigitte Autran, president of Covars, on October 4 on RMC , which encourages ' enormously 'vaccination against the flu, as well as against the Covid. Similarly, Alain Fischer, professor of immunology, called on the elderly, frail and pregnant women to be vaccinated against the flu, in an interview with the Parisian end of September . The vaccination campaign against seasonal flu starts on October 18 in pharmacy. Thus, from October 18 to 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.

  Barrier gestures against the flu
Barrier gestures against the flu

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 the symptoms of the flu?

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 vaccine?

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.

The duration of contagion can last 6 days.

How long does a flu last?

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

What is the incubation time?

' 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?

  • 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.

What are the treatments for the 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 for the flu?

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

Figures: what is the toll of the 2021-2022 epidemic?

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.

How not to catch 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