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How not to get sick with SARS and influenza – prevention and vaccinations

Nizhny Tagil is experiencing a seasonal increase in the incidence of SARS – acute respiratory viral infections. Last week, according to sanitary doctors, the number of cases increased by 61% and exceeded 2,000 people. And the peak of the wave, according to Rospotrebnadzor, is still ahead – it is predicted for the last ten days of December. Largely because of this, schoolchildren Winter holidays start early. “All News” has collected answers to the most important questions about SARS.

What are they sick with?

At the moment, COVID-19 has given way to influenza. As in many regions of Russia, in the cities of the Sverdlovsk region, the influenza A (H1N1)pdm09-like strain dominates. This is a strain very similar to the “swine flu” strain that occurred in 2008-2009.

At the same time, COVID-19 has also not disappeared, the number of cases detected in Nizhny Tagil is still stable – a little more than 200 per week.

How do they get sick?

The flu, as a rule, begins to manifest itself quite sharply. This, perhaps, can be called the visiting card of the flu – sometimes the sick person can even name the exact time. The temperature rises to a high fever – 39 degrees, there are pains in the muscles and joints, fatigue. Runny nose, sore throat, cough are also possible. In general, it is possible to reliably distinguish influenza from other acute respiratory viral infections, the pathogens of which are more than 200, based on a PCR test (yes, the same swab from the nasopharynx as for COVID-19, only for influenza). But if during the waves of COVID-19, all patients who went to the doctor with a temperature (and some several times) passed swabs, then only patients with a severe course of the disease are tested for influenza – this is necessary to make a decision on how to treat it. Therefore, you should not scold the polyclinic doctor who made you a generalized diagnosis of ARVI, even if you are sure that it is the flu – with a mild course, there is no difference in treatment approaches.

Outbreak of SARS and influenza in Nizhny Tagil

Why do they get sick in winter?

Several factors come into play. Viruses circulate in the air and enter the body through the respiratory tract. But for this they need to overcome several layers of protection at once. The first is the mucociliary barrier, in other words, the mucus that each of us has in the nasal cavity. It is needed so that pathogens cannot gain a foothold on the mucosa. The outer layer of mucosal cells, the ciliated epithelium, is the next level of protection. These are special cells with cilia moving in one direction and helping to evacuate mucus with viruses stuck in it away from the nasopharynx.

So why does this protection weaken in winter? First, because of the cold. Under the influence of low temperatures, epithelial cells are damaged and cannot perform their protective function. Here you need to understand that we are sick not just because we were cold, ate ice cream, and so on. The disease occurs due to the fact that a virus enters the damaged cells and, taking advantage of the lack of protection, enters the body. Cooling itself does not cause disease, and cells are gradually restored.

The second factor is dry air. In winter, it is generally drier. An additional contribution is made by central heating, which dries the air in the apartments. Dry air leads to a thickening of the protective mucus and a decrease in its quantity. It becomes easier for viruses to gain a foothold in the nasopharynx.

Thus, a steady increase in the number of ARVI cases in winter is due to the fact that conditions are created for viruses resistant to negative temperatures that help them penetrate the body and cause disease.

How to protect yourself? Maybe something to drink or smear your nose?

A magic pill that would help not to get sick has not yet been invented. Otherwise, there would not be such problems with pandemics. None of the drugs sold in pharmacies have proven effective in preventing SARS.

Applying any ointment to the nasal mucosa will also not help – this prevents the normal evacuation of the mucus of the mucociliary barrier and further thickens it.

What then works?

But good results in prevention showed … a humidifier. Creating a relative humidity level of 40-60% leads to a decrease in the resistance of viruses and a decrease in the number of cases. Just do not forget to monitor the condition of the humidifier, otherwise it will turn into an incubator for pathogens.

Wet cleaning and ventilation is a way to clean the air in the apartment from pathogens.
As the COVID pandemic has already proven, masks and handwashing are effective in preventing viruses from spreading.
But the most effective way to prevent influenza is vaccination.

Is it still possible to get vaccinated against the flu?

If you have not been sick yet, then it is not only possible, but necessary. The flu season lasts until March-April. And if you are not hooked by the current wave, then the chances of getting sick will still not become zero. In addition, there are several strains of influenza, and they usually do not circulate alone. Therefore, even if you have been ill with one, the vaccine will protect you from 2-3 more, depending on the valence of a particular vaccine (the valency of a flu vaccine is the number of strains of the virus against which it helps protect).

Of course, it is optimal to get vaccinated before the start of an increase in the incidence. But only because it takes about two weeks to form immunity, and when everyone around is sick, this time may not be. So it was during the waves of COVID-19 – people were vaccinated, but managed to get infected before the immune system had time to form protection. From here came the stable, but false, belief that a person fell ill precisely because of the vaccination. In fact, vaccination during the peak of the disease does not affect the safety of vaccination.

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