The Flu outbreak in the country could be a new strain and children, people aged above 65 and those with underlying health conditions should get the annual Flu vaccine, according to medics.
Dr Betty Shiruli, a physician in Vihiga County, explains that the Influenza virus which occurs in seasons, has been changing and therefore one vaccine will not be sufficient protection.
“Flu outbreaks have been occurring even before Covid and there is always a new strain hence the need to have this population of elderly people and young children get the annual flu vaccine to help keep this flu away,” said Dr Shuruli.
Dr. Shiruli said the new strain of Influenza A will present with normal flu symptoms like fever, muscle aches, joint pains, running nose, red eyes, fatigue, some people will present with diarrhea and occasionally it can progress to severe Influenza pneumonia.
“It can present just like Covid-19 apart from the fact that one will not have a loss of smell or taste characteristic for Covid, but the rest of the symptoms will be quite similar because covid-19 will have similar symptoms with other Coronaviruses since they are upper respiratory infections. So there are so many overlapping symptoms,” explained Dr Shiruli clarifying that there is no link between the Flu outbreak and the Omicron variant of Covid-19 despite a spike in positivity rates.
“It is only wise for one to get tested for Covid-19 if they have these flu-like symptoms just to be sure it is Covid or not because it can only be ruled out through the rapid tests that we are doing” she noted.
Children, she said, are more susceptible because of mingling in school and may get severe disease due to their immunity and thus transmit the Flu to the older population at home-which is the best place to manage Influenza.
But parents and guardians should avoid self-medication with antibiotics which do not cure the virus.
“Parents with sick children should stay away from the cough syrups and antibiotics especially over-the-counter medications, but should seek medical help from a hospital, especially when the child has a severe fever,” urged Dr Shiruli adding that most times, Influenza A symptoms clear on their own if one takes warm fluids, but severe infections calls for antiviral medication in a hospital.