Collaborating with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institute of Health (NIH) has released an advisory focused on addressing the prevention and control of seasonal influenza as the winter season looms. In Pakistan, historical data reveals a significant rise in flu cases typically observed from December to February, coinciding with the drop in temperatures.
The primary objective of the advisory is to raise awareness and garner support from health authorities and other stakeholders for the timely implementation of preventive and control measures. Emphasizing the necessity for preparedness, the NIH underscores the importance of ensuring both outpatient and in-patient departments are ready for the expected surge in workload in the upcoming months.
Underscoring the potential seriousness of seasonal influenza, especially for individuals at high risk, the advisory points out that those with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, cardiac and lung diseases, pregnant women, the elderly, and children under five years old are at an increased risk of developing severe or complicated illnesses.
Emphasizing vaccination as a highly effective strategy for preventing infection and mitigating the severity of outcomes, the advisory stresses its importance, particularly for high-risk groups. It highlights that influenza can spread through coughing, sneezing, or contact with contaminated hands and surfaces.
In order to reduce the risk of influenza transmission, it is crucial to incorporate preventive measures into daily routines. This includes consistently practicing thorough handwashing with soap and water. In instances where handwashing facilities are not easily accessible, it is recommended to use hand sanitizer. Additionally, it is important to note that adopting preventive measures becomes even more significant if an individual is unwell or has been in close contact with someone exhibiting flu-like symptoms, as this helps to further minimize the spread of influenza.
Furthermore, it is imperative to observe proper respiratory hygiene, including covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. Individuals experiencing unwellness are strongly advised to prioritize rest and avoid crowded places. The implementation of social distancing measures is also essential to further minimize the potential spread of illness.