an acute contagious disease of the upper airways and lungs
- Chinese: 流行性感冒 (liúxíngxìnggǎnmào)
- Czech: chřipka
- Dutch: griep
- Estonian: gripp
- Finnish: influenssa
- French: grippe
- German: Grippe, Influenza
- Hungarian: influenza
- Icelandic: inflúensa , flensa
- Italian: influenza
- Japanese: 流行性感冒 (りゅうこうせいかんぼう, ryūkōseikanbō), インフルエンザ (infuruenza)
- Lithuanian: gripas
- Polish: grypa
- Portuguese: gripe
- Romanian: gripă
- Scottish Gaelic: cnatan mòr
- Slovak: chrípka
- Spanish: gripe , gripa
- Swedish: influensa , flunsa
- Ukrainian: грип
- Welsh: ffliw
- flu (influenza)
Influenza, commonly known as flu, is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae (the influenza viruses). The name influenza comes from the lang-it influenza, meaning "influence", (). In humans, common symptoms of the disease are the chills, then fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. In more serious cases, influenza causes pneumonia, which can be fatal, particularly in young children and the elderly. Although it is sometimes confused with the common cold, influenza is a much more severe disease and is caused by a different type of virus. Influenza can produce nausea and vomiting, especially in children,
Typically influenza is transmitted from infected mammals through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols containing the virus, and from infected birds through their droppings. Influenza can also be transmitted by saliva, nasal secretions, faeces and blood. Infections also occur through contact with these body fluids or with contaminated surfaces. Flu viruses can remain infectious for about one week at human body temperature, over 30 days at 0 °C (32 °F), and for much longer periods at very low temperatures. Most influenza strains can be inactivated easily by disinfectants and detergents.
Flu spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, killing millions of people in pandemic years and hundreds of thousands in non-pandemic years. Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century and killed tens of millions of people, with each of these pandemics being caused by the appearance of a new strain of the virus in humans. Often, these new strains result from the spread of an existing flu virus to humans from other animal species. A deadly avian strain named H5N1 has posed the greatest risk for a new influenza pandemic since it first killed humans in Asia in the 1990s. Fortunately, this virus has not mutated to a form that spreads easily between people.
Vaccinations against influenza are usually given to people in developed countries with a high risk of contracting the disease and to farmed poultry. The most common human vaccine is the trivalent influenza vaccine that contains purified and inactivated material from three viral strains. Typically, this vaccine includes material from two influenza A virus subtypes and one influenza B virus strain. A vaccine formulated for one year may be ineffective in the following year, since the influenza virus changes rapidly over time, and different strains become dominant. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat influenza, with neuraminidase inhibitors being particularly effective.
EtymologyThe word influenza comes from the Italian language and refers to the cause of a disease; initially, this ascribed illness to unfavorable astrological influences. Changes in medical thought led to its modification to influenza del freddo, meaning "influence of the cold". The word influenza was first used in English in 1743 when it was adopted, with an anglicized pronunciation, during an outbreak of the disease in Europe. Archaic terms for influenza include epidemic catarrh, grippe (from the French), sweating sickness, and Spanish fever (particularly for the 1918 pandemic strain).
HistoryThe symptoms of human influenza were clearly described by Hippocrates roughly 2,400 years ago. Since then, the virus has caused numerous pandemics. Historical data on influenza are difficult to interpret, because the symptoms can be similar to those of other diseases, such as diphtheria, pneumonic plague, typhoid fever, dengue, or typhus. The first convincing record of an influenza pandemic was of an outbreak in 1580, which began in Asia and spread to Europe via Africa. In Rome, over 8,000 people were killed, and several Spanish cities were almost wiped out. Pandemics continued sporadically throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, with the pandemic of 1830–1833 being particularly widespread; it infected approximately a quarter of the people exposed.
The most famous and lethal outbreak was the so-called Spanish flu pandemic (type A influenza, H1N1 subtype), which lasted from 1918 to 1919. Older estimates say it killed 40–50 million people, while current estimates say 50 million to 100 million people worldwide were killed. This pandemic has been described as "the greatest medical holocaust in history" and may have killed as many people as the Black Death.
The Spanish flu pandemic was truly global, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. The unusually severe disease killed between 2 and 20% of those infected, as opposed to the more usual flu epidemic mortality rate of 0.1%. This is unusual since influenza is normally most deadly to the very young (under age 2) and the very old (over age 70). The total mortality of the 1918–1919 pandemic is not known, but it is estimated that 2.5% to 5% of the world's population was killed. As many as 25 million may have been killed in the first 25 weeks; in contrast, HIV/AIDS has killed 25 million in its first 25 years. This discovery was shortly followed by the isolation of the virus from humans by a group headed by Patrick Laidlaw at the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom in 1933. However, it was not until Wendell Stanley first crystallized tobacco mosaic virus in 1935 that the non-cellular nature of viruses was appreciated.
The first significant step towards preventing influenza was the development in 1944 of a killed-virus vaccine for influenza by Thomas Francis, Jr.. This built on work by Frank Macfarlane Burnet, who showed that the virus lost virulence when it was cultured in fertilized hen's eggs. Application of this observation by Francis allowed his group of researchers at the University of Michigan to develop the first influenza vaccine, with support from the U.S. Army. The Army was deeply involved in this research due to its experience of influenza in World War I, when thousands of troops were killed by the virus in a matter of months. There are three types of influenza virus: Influenzavirus A, Influenzavirus B, and Influenzavirus C. Influenza A and C infect multiple species, while influenza B almost exclusively infects humans. Wild aquatic birds are the natural hosts for a large variety of influenza A viruses. Occasionally, viruses are transmitted to other species and may then cause devastating outbreaks in domestic poultry or give rise to human influenza pandemics. The type A viruses are the most virulent human pathogens among the three influenza types and cause the most severe disease. The influenza A virus can be subdivided into different serotypes based on the antibody response to these viruses.
Influenza B virus is almost exclusively a human pathogen and is less common than influenza A. The only other animal known to be susceptible to influenza B infection is the seal. This type of influenza mutates at a rate 2–3 times lower than type A and consequently is less genetically diverse, with only one influenza B serotype. This reduced rate of antigenic change, combined with its limited host range (inhibiting cross species antigenic shift), ensures that pandemics of influenza B do not occur.
The influenza C virus infects humans and pigs and can cause severe illness and local epidemics. However, influenza C is less common than the other types and usually seems to cause mild disease in children.
Structure and propertiesThe following applies for influenza A viruses, although other strains are very similar in structure:
The influenza A virus particle or virion is 80–120 nm in diameter and usually roughly spherical, although filamentous forms can occur. Unusually for a virus, the influenza A genome is not a single piece of nucleic acid; instead, it contains eight pieces of segmented negative-sense RNA (13.5 kilobases total), which encode 11 proteins (HA (hemagglutinin), NA (neuraminidase), NP (nucleoprotein), M1, M2, NS1, NS2(NEP), PA, PB1, PB1-F2, PB2). The best-characterised of these viral proteins are hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, two large glycoproteins found on the outside of the viral particles. Neuraminidase is an enzyme involved in the release of progeny virus from infected cells, by cleaving sugars that bind the mature viral particles. By contrast, hemagglutinin is a lectin that mediates binding of the virus to target cells and entry of the viral genome into the target cell. The hemagglutinin (HA or H) and neuraminidase (NA or N) proteins are targets for antiviral drugs. These proteins are also recognised by antibodies, i.e. they are antigens. The cell imports the virus by endocytosis. In the acidic endosome, part of the hemagglutinin protein fuses the viral envelope with the vacuole's membrane, releasing the viral RNA (vRNA) molecules, accessory proteins and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase into the cytoplasm (Stage 2). These proteins and vRNA form a complex that is transported into the cell nucleus, where the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase begins transcribing complementary positive-sense vRNA (Steps 3a and b). The vRNA is either exported into the cytoplasm and translated (step 4), or remains in the nucleus. Newly-synthesised viral proteins are either secreted through the Golgi apparatus onto the cell surface (in the case of neuraminidase and hemagglutinin, step 5b) or transported back into the nucleus to bind vRNA and form new viral genome particles (step 5a). Other viral proteins have multiple actions in the host cell, including degrading cellular mRNA and using the released nucleotides for vRNA synthesis and also inhibiting translation of host-cell mRNAs.
Negative-sense vRNAs that form the genomes of future viruses, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and other viral proteins are assembled into a virion. Hemagglutinin and neuraminidase molecules cluster into a bulge in the cell membrane. The vRNA and viral core proteins leave the nucleus and enter this membrane protrusion (step 6). The mature virus buds off from the cell in a sphere of host phospholipid membrane, acquiring hemagglutinin and neuraminidase with this membrane coat (step 7). As before, the viruses adhere to the cell through hemagglutinin; the mature viruses detach once their neuraminidase has cleaved sialic acid residues from the host cell.—antigenic drift. The separation of the genome into eight separate segments of vRNA allows mixing or reassortment of vRNAs if more than one viral line has infected a single cell. The resulting rapid change in viral genetics produces antigenic shifts and allows the virus to infect new host species and quickly overcome protective immunity. Smoking is another risk factor associated with more serious disease and increased mortality from influenza.
SymptomsSymptoms of influenza can start quite suddenly one to two days after infection. Usually the first symptoms are chills or a chilly sensation, but fever is also common early in the infection, with body temperatures as high as 39 °C (approximately 103 °F). Many people are so ill that they are confined to bed for several days, with aches and pains throughout their bodies, which are worst in their backs and legs.
It can be difficult to distinguish between the common cold and influenza in the early stages of these infections,
contains latest Evolutionary "Tree of Life" for H5N1 article Antigenic and genetic characteristics of H5N1 viruses and candidate H5N1 vaccine viruses developed for potential use as pre-pandemic vaccines published August 18, 2006
- WHO's assessment of Flu Research as of November 2006.
- Info on influenza at CDC
- Influenza (Mayo Clinic)
- Fact Sheet Overview of influenza at World Health Organization
- Health encyclopedia entry at NHS Direct
- BioHealthBase Bioinformatics Resource Center Database of influenza sequences and related information.
- Overview of influenza at MedicineNet
- Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports regarding Influenza Law-related government reports at University of North Texas
- Influenza Surveillance and Contingency Plans (by country/region)
- Orthomyxoviridae The Universal Virus Database of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses
- Influenza Virus Resource from the NCBI
- InfluenzaWorld Resource for all influenza-related information.
- European Influenza Surveillance Scheme
- Review of Influenza origin, virology, clinical syndromes and management from thenakedscientists.com at Cambridge University Pathology Dept.
influenza in Arabic: فيروس إنفلونزا
influenza in Aymara: Jurma usu
influenza in Min Nan: Liû-hêng-sèng kám-mō͘
influenza in Bulgarian: Грип
influenza in Catalan: Grip
influenza in Czech: Chřipka
influenza in Welsh: Ffliw
influenza in Danish: Influenza
influenza in German: Influenza
influenza in Modern Greek (1453-): Γρίπη
influenza in Spanish: Gripe
influenza in Esperanto: Gripo
influenza in Basque: Gripe
influenza in Persian: آنفلوآنزا
influenza in French: Grippe
influenza in Korean: 인플루엔자
influenza in Croatian: Gripa
influenza in Ido: Influenzo
influenza in Indonesian: Influensa
influenza in Icelandic: Inflúensa
influenza in Italian: Influenza
influenza in Hebrew: שפעת
influenza in Kara-Kalpak: Gripp
influenza in Kazakh: Тұмау
influenza in Kurdish: Arsim
influenza in Latvian: Gripa
influenza in Lithuanian: Gripas
influenza in Hungarian: Influenza
influenza in Malay (macrolanguage): Influenza
influenza in Dutch: Griep
influenza in Japanese: インフルエンザ
influenza in Norwegian: Influensa
influenza in Norwegian Nynorsk: Influensa
influenza in Polish: Grypa
influenza in Portuguese: Gripe
influenza in Kölsch: Pepps
influenza in Quechua: Chhulli
influenza in Russian: Грипп
influenza in Albanian: Gripi
influenza in Simple English: Influenza
influenza in Slovenian: Gripa
influenza in Serbian: Грип
influenza in Finnish: Influenssa
influenza in Swedish: Influensa
influenza in Thai: ไข้หวัดใหญ่
influenza in Vietnamese: Bệnh cúm
influenza in Turkish: Grip
influenza in Ukrainian: Грип
influenza in Walloon: Virûsse del gripe
influenza in Yiddish: פלו
influenza in Chinese: 流行性感冒
influenza in Slovak: Chrípka
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